Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who Is Public Prayer Really For?

Prayer is a powerful thing. I am a Christian woman and I totally BELIEVE in the power of prayer. Matter of fact, during the past year my belief and practice in prayer have been increased; so much so that I joined a prayer group called My Girlfriend's Business.  I along with the women of My Girlfriend's Business wake up each morning to pray collectively for our families, communities, and ourselves between 5:00-6:00am. 

As much as I love and believe in prayer, I am extremely challenged and perplexed by the declarations by my other Christian brothers and sisters that claim the absence of "a state sanctioned prayer" is why the schools are failing. Really? I  want to maintain a balanced perspective around this issue because I know that there are many people that sincerely believe this is the reason, however I do not understand the premise.  Do we really think schools are failing because state sanctioned prayer has been taken out of schools? Is that an emotional response or a spiritual one?

I agree we are certainly in a time in our history that we need MORE love, MORE faith and  MORE prayer. However, I don't fully understand the we need prayer in schools debate? Who is PUBLIC prayer really for in the first place?   
On Monday, former Governor and GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated "we shouldn't be surprised at the recent school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School" in Newtown, Connecticut. He asserted that somehow this heinous act was tied to the lack of religious expression in public school.  So let me get this right?! Is brother Huckabee suggesting that innocent children were killed because the principal didn't read a pre-scripted state sanctioned prayer over the intercom? 

As Christians, is state sanctioned prayer the real issue that our schools are facing? Praying for our children and schools is always an option with or without being sanctioned by the state.  We can't confuse the issue of having a school sanctioned prayer with our ability to pray for our children and schools because these are two different issues.  Do we think that there is something more holy or more potent in a state sanctioned prayer? Do we think God will hear us better if the state says it's okay?  Do we really want the state dictating our prayers? 

The scriptures clearly states in Matt 5:45 that pain is shared by all and that God allows it "to rain on both the just and unjust".  There are many things that will and have happened that we won't understand; however we can't select the easiest explanation to understand that which can not be understood. Evil is sometimes beyond our understanding. Evil is simply evil.  

As Christians, we are still required to be responsible Christians and base our opinions on God's word. In many ways, I believe we accept the most common political position on issues that we hear in the mainstream media because it doesn't require us to push ourselves to a different level of our faith.    Perhaps the real challenge for us as Christians is to go deeper, pray harder and add works with our faith. I think we are far too complacent, far too easy to pass blame and far too judgmental in our role as Christians.
Have we forgotten the true intention and purpose of prayer? Have we forgotten that God is  omniscient and can always hear what's in a man's heart? Plus, there is no biblical requirement (that I am aware of)  that prayer must be spoken publicly in order to be valid. 

I actually have the audacity to believe that prayer is POWERFUL ENOUGH that it transcends time, place and space.  I often pray for people I've never met, for people in countries that I have never visited and for families located thousands of miles away.  I don't believe I have to be in India, the operating room, the school yard or even the White House for my prayers to be heard. I don't believe the Holy Spirit is limited by my presence in a place(or the lack thereof) The beauty of God is that I believe He is EVERYWHERE! 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with this blog nor diminish the value of prayer.   I would like to continue a dialogue with my Christian brothers and sisters to really examine this notion that the schools are dangerous and failing because "they took prayer out." 

Perhaps prayer isn't what left the public school system but maybe we left the schools. If we were there working to make things better wouldn't prayer be there in some form? Perhaps it is our abuse of how we use and misuse our faith that has partly led to the moral demise of our communities?  Is the prayer debate a scapegoat for our responsibility to take care of others?Does public prayer make us feel more righteous or obedient? Do we think that God will hear us better if people hear us pray aloud too? 

Ironically, there are many references in the bible where Jesus actually withdrew from the public and went in private places to commune and pray to God. 


Let's see what Jesus taught us about public prayer.....

Matthew 5:6 
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

Matthew 6:1 
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 23:5
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
Obviously, public prayer was not a requirement for Jesus.  Then why is it a requirement for us?

So my question is   "Who is public prayer really for...????

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


My Mom says that I was born to sing.  She says that even as a little baby I absolutely LOVED to sing.  I can clearly remember my first paid gig on a Greyhound bus headed to New York City during the Christmas season. I say it was a paid gig but actually it amounted to me being a little 6 year old, standing in the aisles, singing Christmas songs on bus while collecting quarters, half sandwichs, candy and smiles as payment.

I have been a singer all of my life, all throughout my high school years, college career, and young adulthood but in recent years I moved away from my craft. After Hurricane Katrina I completely lost my desire to sing and/or perform. It was as if the storm took away my voice in the midst of the destruction of so many lives in the gulf coast region.

After a seven year hiatus from singing I found myself thrust back into the art of performing.  I realized just how powerful music is in telling a story and delivering a message.  I was reminded of how much music was a part of who I am.

This year I gave myself a long awaited birthday gift--a recorded LOVE SONG!  For years it has been my desire to record my own music and share the message of love with the world.  Well on November 10, 2012 (my birthday) I fulfilled a long awaited dream by recording and sharing my first recorded "love song" with the world.  The song is called So High!

Please listen to the YouTube video and share with your friends!    

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"What Does A Free Woman Look Like?"

Recently I read a post placed on Facebook by my prayer partner a girlfriend named Lisa.  She is such an amazing woman of God that has overcome so many personal challenges and always has a smile or encouraging word to offer.  Like many of us she is a mother, a professional, a minister, a daughter and a friend that always makes herself available to help others.  However, I am proud to announce that she is NOW doing something for herself and has made her own liberation the priority in her life. 

Below I have decided to repost her facebook message in her own words because I think that her personal TRUTH has the power to bring true liberation. I hope that her testimony blesses you like it did me this morning.  Freedom is not a state of being; it really is a choice! 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36

Facebook Message from  my friend Lisa Yvette Jones

You know, for the first time in my adult life, I am free! I free of worry, free of doubt, free of children, I am free of stage 3 Cervical Cancer some 3+ years and forever, I'm divorced, I am 106 pounds lighter today than I was last year this time, my child, my blessed young man of valor, is in the university of his and God's choosing...I happen to love Drexel University as well, he is pursuing the academic discipline of choice, my career is booming, I traveled overseas for the first time in my life this year and have truly been bitten, on to China next September, my faith is even stronger, my joy is full and perpetual, my books are in the making, thank God...

 I am still in the making and I am embracing every moment of it...His making, the legacy of my mother, The late and Great Sister Queenie Victoria Thompson, lives on in me...her strength, her boldness, her determination, and yes... Her beauty lives on in me. This weekend, I decided to free my self of the weave and embrace the new crown of glory the Lord has blessed me with, I added a bit of me (the color)... Yes, in the words of girlfriend Toy Banks...dare to be "BOLD, CONFIDENT, and BEAUTIFUL!" 

So, hello world and look out, because you never know when this woman of freedom will step foot on your land in this great big world God has created. FB family, in this moment of transparency, it's time to really do me! How do you like me now!

What Does Freedom Look Like?

Praise God for my friend, Lisa Yvette Jones, who has been healed, elevated, uplifted, transformed, fulfilled, redeemed, motivated, educated, inspired, refined, embraced, prepared, chosen, honored, rewarded, and restored!

Monday, October 29, 2012

She Loved Him- A Short Story

She loved him -- magnanimously.  But it was too much. Like a cancer, this love spread throughout her entire body and permeated every limb, every organ, and every cell. 

It seemed like her unbridled love for this man was a part of her cellular make-up; perhaps it was encoded in her DNA. She felt like her love for him was the oxygen in her blood that fed her cells and flowed freely through her veins; racing towards her heart.  
Unfortunately, it was this same love that ran him away. She didn’t fully understand it’s power at the time so she gave it to him unceasingly and without restraint; never realizing that the power of the gift was just too much for him to handle.  In fact, the truth is it became too much for them both.

This love was like a wild fire that needed to be monitored and contained and not to be left alone unattended.  She welcomed it’s consuming power, however he knew that he had to get out before the love flames spread to the dry areas of his broken spirit.  

He wasn’t quite ready for the flames to mix with the dry residue of his anger, pain and fears.  He needed to hold on to the residue because it seemed to remind him of the dark spaces in life.  Ironically, it was the familiarity of the dark spaces that made him feel  comfortable and safe.

Her love had become too intense and he had no desire to be over taken by it’s heat. This man had already had his share of heartbreak and burn wounds caused by love and failed relationships.  Therefore, he cornered a part of his heart, installed special fireproof walls and tried his best to protect himself from her flames. There was no way that he would be smitten by love again. 

On the other hand, she deeply desired to feel the warmth and comfort their love provided; she loved the light it created in the dark and lonely moments and she loved the intensity of their passion. Ironically, the more heat they generated together the greater her desire was to surrender to its’ flames. She appreciated the intensity of love. She longed for it; he feared it.

After the third attempt their love fire finally reached its’ peek and she gladly took off all of her clothes, oiled down her body for the experience and jumped nakedly into the core center of the flames. However, for some unstated reason he changed his mind right before the jump, made a 180 degree turn and left her at the scene alone once more--without even a conversation.  

She was terribly embarrassed as she stood there for the third time being rejected by the same man during the same time of year as the other two previous times.  Why had she believed him again? When would she let it go and move on? Unfortunately, she now found herself completely naked, with third degree burns on her heart, a singed spirit that reeked the smell of fear, and in more emotional pain than any flame should ever inflict on one soul.

To make matters worst, when he left her for the third time he took back all of his love and unintentionally carried a little bit of hers away as well.  Had she not learned her lesson from the two prior attempts at love with and for this man? Did she think that love made her invincible—a Superwoman of sorts—or even fireproof?

Although she was overcome by the embarrassment of her third folly she decided to completely surrender to the power of love's fire she felt shut up in her bones. Ironically, she discovered that being consumed by love wasn’t as bad as she originally thought; although there were consequences that didn't always feel good.  Through the process she actually discovered that the burning away of one’s fleshly desires the soul and spirit could actually be released.

She accepted that this process of love was perhaps designed by a higher force and higher power for the purpose of consuming the dry and barren emotional areas in her life in preparation for new life. She often jokingly referred to these areas as the Valley of the Dry Bones. In fact, she discovered that she was a genuine superhero that was only being trained, molded and shaped by this love fire that caused her seven years of excruciating pain.

Ironically, out of the residue of her pain and broken spirit she actually began her transcendence to a higher love. This new love gave her permission to follow her dreams, embrace her gifts and most importantly, honor herself. She could now rise up from the  ashes of her extinguished past love fire and soar to higher heights.  She welcomed the journey. She had become the Phoenix.     
*Photo CREDITS:  The Phoenix above was created by artist Nela. You can find her work at http://neladunato.com/illustration/phoenix/ 

*Photo CREDITS:  The opening feature photo was created by an artist named John Holyfield @ www.holyfieldstudio.com/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pushing Past Fear

I WAS AFRAID! Fear gripped me by the throat, set root in my heart and would not let me go. A few weeks ago my home was burglarized and severely ransacked on all three levels.

My sacred spaces were invaded and vandalized   from top to bottom.  I felt violated and vulnerable because all of my personal belongings had been rummaged through by absolute strangers.  It felt as if my safety or comfort had been forever compromised.

Ironically, I accidentally caught the thieves in my home during the process of the robbery.  Upon returning from my Wednesday night bible study I saw one of the robbers tearing up my personal office as I drove into my garage.  This image in itself gave me an unsettling and vulnerable feeling in my spirit.

Many times in my life I have felt fear, however this incident seemed to shake me at the core of my being.  Unfortunately, this fear continued to linger for days and seemed to grow larger and larger each passing moment.  For more than a week, I hardly slept and found myself night after night tossing and turning.  I even began getting up throughout the night to investigate any small noises or any random sound in or around my home. 

I don't think that I realized how much the fear impacted my health until one morning I woke up with the entire right side of my body (from head to toe) in pain and stiff as a board.  I was hurting so bad that I  scheduled an appointment with my chiropractor for an emergency visit.

After examining my posture and spine, my chiropractor asked me what had I been doing differently that cause my back to get so out of alignment and my muscles so inflammed. I explained to him I had actually changed my sleep position in the bed so that I could 1.) hear if any intruder entered my home and 2) grab a weapon located near my bed to assail an intruder within a moment's notice. Suddenly, I  was always on guard.

Fear had interrupted my life...
Fear had stolen my security....
Fear had disrupted my peace...
Fear had disturbed my sleep...
Fear had me constantly on guard and unable to wind down either awake or during rest.... 
And now FEAR was starting to impact my health and quality of life! 

Unfortunately, by the end of the week the "fear" had grown so big that I along with my roommate left my house to sleep on the couch of a friend. I actually RAN AWAY from my own home. 

I am a single head of household and most of my close friends are married with courageous men helping to protect their homes; therefore  I felt at a major disadvantage and extremely vulnerable.  After the robbery my nerves were constantly on edge.

On one particular night my laptop computer was out of its' usual place and I became so fearful that I almost ran out of my house.  However, I called a girlfriend and she sent her husband and boys over to walk through my home and property. Because of the growing "fear" my life had become a living hell!

For days I cried out to God, "Lord, I just can't do this alone.  How am I suppose to protect my home and family from strange men all by myself? Lord, will you not send me my husband, a partner or some help?"

In an effort to re-establish some feeling of security, I decided to move back home once my security system was completely restored. However, on the scheduled repair date the home security company called me to cancel and pushed the repair date back 4 WHOLE days.  What was I to do now? Did I have to stay on someone's else's couch and/or get a room for the next 4 days? How could I feel safe? Didn't I need a man in the house? Lord, now what???

I was about to head towards a local hotel to check-in and work through this dilemma when I heard a voice in my spirit.  The voice gently asked me, "What are you afraid of?"  I knew exactly what I was afraid of but before I could answer or respond I heard the question poised a second time,"What are you afraid of?"  This time I knew that a surface answer would not be sufficient. I had to go deeper and really think about what I was afraid of and why I was afraid.

Just as God would have it I immediately reflected in my mind of His word and a saying of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 6:25-27~  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Amazingly, the fear that had tortured me since the robbery left at that precise moment just as quickly as it had arrived.  Just the reflection and meditation on those (5) five words spoken by Christ, "Do not worry about your life.." changed my entire spirit and safety outlook. Fear was forced to flee!

The more I reflected and repeated God's word over and over again the more powerful and authoritative I felt.  I then turned my car around and headed straight for my home.

Up until that point I thought I would never feel safe in my home again unless I was protected by either 1.) a man, 2.) a gun and/or 3.) some fancy security system.  However, at that very special moment while riding in my car God taught me that He alone is perfectly capable of protecting me.  

 I Have Learned 5  special"Characteristics of Fear"

1.) Fear is like an imaginary monster.  It will take up shop and residence in your mind and continue to grow and grow and grow as long as you feed it a healthy meal of doubt, negative thoughts, and the illusion of being separated from God's love.

2.) Fear is like an unhealthy or poisonous meal. Fear will actually make you physically sick if you digest or absorb it in your mind, body and spirit. Fear is unhealthy.

3.) Fear overtime will become a personality or constant companion. However, if you speak God's word aloud to the fear and command it to leave...it MUST obey!

4.) Fear is like a bully. That is why running from fear does not solve the problem. You have to put up your dukes, face fear head-on and claim your peace with authority. You must be willing to fight through the thoughts. Half the battle is showing up for the fight; your Daddy will do the rest.

5.) Fear is like a illusionary magic trick.  I once saw on a bumper sticker that Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. This is so true.  Fear can NEVER  trump the love of GOD! For there is nothing separates us from the love of God.

God teaches us in His word that we are to fear NO ONE but God.  I think I finally came to understand that there is no man that is courageous enough, no weapon strong enough or no circumstance great enough that can protect me more than my Father GOD!

NOW Psalm 27 has a radically new meaning for me  
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;

Of whom shall I be afraid?...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Missing Queen B: Why I Love Bridget Woods

There are some souls that come to the earth only for a short time but take on the form of an angel that enriches the lives of others... Bridget Woods was one of those special people.  

If you are from Selma, Alabama and ever rode down Range (Marie Foster) street in the past 20 years, I am quite sure that you should have at least on one occasion gotten a glimpse of this beautiful young woman sitting on her front porch on the corner of Philpot Avenue and Marie Foster. 

I always thought of Bridget as the neighborhood watcher or the "Queen of Range Street." Although it was years ago, it feels like only yesterday that I remember seeing this pretty little chubby girl with  two long ponytails sitting on the porch eating ice cream while swinging her feet and simultaneously watching all the happenings on the block.  This was Bridgett.......She never missed a beat.

Years later when Bridget became a teenager, I was blessed to work closely with her and she quickly became one of my special "babies" in a youth group called SHIPP Ahoy ~ an acronym for Sisters High in Pride and Potential. And Bridget she was just that.... ALWAYS high in self-love, pride and potential.

Sadly, last week in the wee hours of the night as she rested in her bed she became a victim to senseless violence in the form of a drive-by shooting.  This beautiful and cheerful angel of a young woman left this earth much too soon.  There have been hundreds of lives touched by her bright smile, wise advice,  infectious laughter, witty jokes and kind heart. 

There are no words that can explain how I feel about the loss of Bridget.  I am not sure if I have even wrapped my mind around what has happened to someone so kind and giving.  It is impossible for me to capture and write all I feel or think about "my baby" in this blog.  She called herself  "Ms. Queen B" and that is exactly who she was~~ a queen in every sense of the word.  Below are just a few thoughts that I wanted to share that remind me of Bridget. 

A Devoted Mother   (Proverbs 31:2 (a) "Her children rise up and call her blessed;")
There were so many things that I admired about Bridget, however what I admired most was her commitment and devotion as a mother. Although Bridget wasn't the biological mother of her daughter I can attest that she loved that child since she was a little baby.  Even as a 19-20 year old woman, Bridgett had enough insight, compassion and love in her heart to volunteer to raise and care for the baby of a young mother that battled with personal problems.  Bridget nurtured, cared and loved her God-given daughter for 11 glorious years.   

Bridget ALWAYS bragged and talked about "her baby girl Keria."  Bridget was much more than a biological mother... she was Shekeria's appointed and anointed mother by God. She took her role as Keria's mother seriously and with much pride. I absolutely adored their relationship.  They had a special mother-daughter connection and adoration for each other.  They were both a tremendous blessing to each other.      

A Natural Comedian (Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.)
She made us laugh and even "cracked us up" with her funny jokes, quick witted responses and sometimes even hilarious snide remarks. Armed with the gift of gab, she could respond to any smart remark or unsolicited joke in 2 seconds flat with witty and descriptive words. Bridget could take on the best jokers  and turn their own joke around on them with the quickness. When I first met Bridget I thought she was shy in the crew but I quickly realized that in fact she was the life, laughter and love of the party.  

Queen "B"had style 
"Hair did, nails did, errything did!" Queen B was the epitome of a hair diva.  Out of all of the years that I have known Ms. Bridget I can't recall a single time that Bridget's hair wasn't fresh and stylish.  'Narry a hair was EVER out of place!  Pin-ups, pin curls, crinkle ponytails, etc.....I can tell you this ~ Bridget could have been a Bonner Brothers' model for the national hair shows in Atlanta. 

Whether it's in the morning, evening or night.....Ms. Bridgett Woods always had that hair did (Yes, I meant to say DID!)  It was always fried, dyed and ALWAYS flipped or pinned up  to the side. (smile)

A Friend and Protector (Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.) Bridget touched so many people in her circle of family and friends through her love and friendship. When I lived in Selma, Bridget and I worked together at the Youth Opportunity Center.  She ALWAYS had my back.  She was dependable, trust-worthy and always loyal.

Those of us that were blessed to know and become friends with Bridget knew that she was an angel.  She was very protective and loyal to her family and friends.  She loved everyone unconditionally and always made herself available to give sound advice, cheer someone up or to encourage those she loved. She will be missed but NEVER forgotten. We will cherish and celebrate our memories. Thanks Bridget for just being YOU!!!

Life is But Stopping Place
Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what's to be,
A resting place along the road,
to sweet eternity.
We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way,
We all were meant to learn some things,
but never meant to stay...
Our destination is a place,
Far greater than we know.
For some the journey's quicker,
For some the journey's slow.
And when the journey finally ends,
We'll claim a great reward,
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the lord
–Author unknown