Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you all a safe and peaceful holiday! I am thankful for everyone who takes a moment to read my words and for all the support you have shown me.

Be blessed!


Friday, November 18, 2011


Earlier this week, my sister in Christ, Kim Cash Tate, posted a message in which she mentioned that the Lord gave her a mission by way of a particular scripture. I thought, "Oh wow, maybe I should find a scripture that encapsulates my mission".  This seemed like something I should pray about that could help me focus on my purpose. But when I opened my bible, I was immediately reminded that I do have a scripture, that I was using it to guide me in my ministry, yet somewhere along the way, I let it go. Over the past few years I allowed circumstances and events to pull me off course. I have sort of been floundering, trying to figure out which direction I should go, when I already knew. I started thinking I was in-capable of continuing the work I was doing because my situation changed. In reality, my experiences only enhance my testimony and give me a deeper understanding of where I can reach others as I help them learn to empower and advocate for themselves and their families.

I am thankful for sisters like Kim and others who encourage me but also redirect me when I am veering in the wrong direction. They embody the scripture that motivates me to do the work I was called to do:

Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Titus 2:3-5 (The Message)

What motivates you to do the work you do?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The wait is over ...

I am pleased and excited to announce that Spirit Song: the lyrics of my heart is now available for purchase when you click the "Buy Now" link to your right. As the holidays are fast approaching, consider securing a copy for yourself and one to give as a gift.

Check out a few excerpts on the "Sneak Peek" page.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Kinyarwanda - A Must See Film

If you are in or near any of these cities - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle - I suggest you run, not walk, to the theater on December 2 to see this new film, directed by Alrick Brown. Kinyarwanda is not just about the genocide in Rwanda, it is a film that holds significance in many areas. In general, I believe it is important to support independent films because the world needs to see multi-dimensional representations of people of color on screen. Specifically, the people of Rwanda want their story told and not to be forgotten.

Rwanda can teach the world about forgiveness, unity, and perseverance. Today, citizens do not identify themselves as Hutu or Tutsi; they are all Rwandans. This film highlights the humanity of survivors and perpetrators. On the screen, we are enveloped with Rwandan culture and language. Viewers experience the dreams of children, a history lesson on what ignited and sustained the division amongst brothers, the ability for Muslims and Christians to work together, and Africans saving themselves. The executive producer, Ishmael Ntihabose, is a survivor who wanted to share his story. Many of the actors and crew are native Rwandans.

During the post-screening discussion, Marie Claudine Mukamabano, the founder of Kuki Ndiho Foundation, addressed the audience. She is a survivor who shared two statements that resonated within me. First, she noted that when dealing with persons who have wronged us, we have two choices; either forgive or seek revenge. To forgive brings us freedom. It we can't exact revenge on those who we feel deserve it, we turn the vengeance toward ourselves and those closest to us. Second, if women stand together, we can bring about peace in this world.

Some things you just have to experience for yourself. Kinyarwanda is one of those things. I hope I have inspired you to look into this film. Please watch the trailer. Visit the website to learn more about the production. Also check out Imagenation and AFFRM, organizations that are working diligently to showcase our stories to the world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Birthing Story

Once again, I am the mother of a teen-ager because my son celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday. (My daughter is 21, so I had a couple of teen-free years there.) Anyway, I believe 13 to be a momentous age, particularly for young men. While my son does not participate in a rites of passage program, I am aware of lessons that need to be imparted to him and I try to align him with people who can supplement what he learns from home. Although he has a heavy female influence, because he lives mostly with his sister and me, his father and other men are there to assist him in his transition to adulthood, which is crucial.

I believe a child's knowledge of his or her birthing story is also an important element of creating a positive self-image. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception (planned or un-planned, parents married or un-married, etc.), children need to understand that their existence is not an accident. With that in mind, I have a tradition (which started with my daughter) of reminding my son of his birthing story at least once a year. My goal is to reinforce the fact that he is a gift to his family and that there are expectations of him in life. Highlights of his story are below.

1. He was prayed for before he came. I was anointed by the Queen Mother of our church on February 8, 1998 and he was born exactly 9 months later.
2. His father and I were intentional about naming him. We want him to live up to his first name, honor his grandfather with his middle name and be proud of his family name. He should be mindful that he is the only male born in his generation, from his grandfather's line, who carries the family name.
3. As soon as he was born, his father lifted him up and dedicated him to God.
4. His sister was in the room while he was born, so he was welcomed by our whole nuclear family.
5. He was created with a purpose. God and his family have great expectations of him.
6. I am proud of who he is now and am certain that I will continue to be proud as he grows to adulthood.

At various times throughout the year, details are fleshed out as the conversation arises. For example, last week we were talking about his problem with being late but I noted that he wasn't always that way. He was actually born on his due date, in the wee hours of the morning. I also find that telling the birthing story can be a good segue into other family historical stories. All in all, this practice has been working for us. I would love to hear about any rituals that you participated in while growing up or that you instituted with your own children surrounding birthdays.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sometimes we over-think the really simple things ...

Yesterday afternoon, I felt like a big jerk because the answer to a problem I was mulling over for the past week (maybe two) was revealed to me. And it was so simple. My day job is in accounting; I had to reconcile payroll documents with my own records. (Let's not dwell on the fact that if I did this quarterly, like I am supposed to, then I would have found and resolved the issue a long time ago - procrastination will be another post.) But I reviewed this particular schedule, my auditors reviewed it, I went through every register from every pay period and could not reconcile the numbers. I finally called our payroll service and asked for some insight. As the representative was speaking, it hit me that I simply did not take certain deductions into consideration - I was following a template from last year, but things changed. It's not rocket science. The place I should have started, was where the answer was. However, I didn't think it could be that apparent, so I looked all over the place and back.

What did I learn? First, don't make issues bigger than they are, one ends up wasting a lot of time and energy that way. Second, don't overlook the obvious; it's obvious for a reason. Last, don't make calling experts (or those who have knowledge of the issue) the last option; check with them first. There is no shame in seeking assistance.

I'm also reminded not to over-think relational issues. What generally happens is I build great scenarios in my mind of what a person's actions mean or what they are thinking - all which have nothing to do with reality. I have learned that if a person says or does something that I am uncomfortable with or unsure about, it's best to just ask for clarification. That makes for better communication and understanding all around.

There are also times when my gut tells me how to react to certain situations and I don't trust it; I start over-thinking all the details. In the end, I usually come to the original conclusion, while precious time has been wasted.

My final thought is when over-thinking becomes in-action. I may get a great idea, but then I think of all the reasons why it wont work, or wont be successful. When all is said and done, if I put the energy into just planning how to move forward, rather than think about all the negative possibilities, things would move along at a quicker pace.

All-in-all, life is not as complicated as we can make it. I am going to embrace the simple way from now on; how about you?