Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts: Peppermint Patty

PEPPERMINT PATTY AND MARCIE-If there are two people in the world who have taught us the meaning of true sisterhood it is these two quirky girls.  I have heard many adulpeppermint patty and marciets today try to use their relationship to teach LGBTQ tolerance. While I don’t presume to speak for Charles Schultz, I am not sure that was his intent.  Rather I think in all his characters he was simply showing us a fundamental truth that the world is full of strange, quirky people-and these very quirks are things that makes life interesting.  I think his intent was to help us understand that we should not put people in boxes and decide for them who they are.  See, ‘cause on the surface Peppermint Patty was a tomboy, and Marcie was not “super feminine” in the classic sense but they both loved them some Charlie Brown didn’t they?

They weren’t ashamed of that and they often openly competed against each other for his unreturned affections that he appeared to be completely oblivious to. Despite this unrequited love, there was a confidence found in these two, that wasn’t found in any of the other girls in Peanuts.  I like the fact that Peppermint Patty was constantly worried about her looks (haven’t we all been there at one time or another?), while Marcie balanced Patty’s neurosis by never worrying about hers.  My favorite strip is when they were talking under a tree one day and Peppermint Patty asked Marcie if she thinks they will be pretty in the future.  (Forgive me if I am messing up the strip-it’s been a long time since I read it.) Marcie in a nutshell replies that in the future Patty is pretty and she is a supermodel.  That’s what I’m talking about Marcie! That is some straight up confidence right there.

My favorite thing about these two is that no matter what they stuck together.  They embodied the true spirit of the Best Friend FOREVER.  They said what was on their minds, they openly and honestly communicated with each other, they looked out for each other, and they accepted one another unconditionally-both leaders in their own right, yet faithfully following the other’s lead. Every Peppermint Patty needs a Marcie and every Marcie should have a Peppermint Patty-how much better life would be.

Lesson Number 7.1-LEADERS ARE FUTURE ORIENTED-ALWAYS LOOKING PAST THE TROUBLES OF TODAY TOWARDS A GLORIOUS TOMORROW

Lesson Number 7.2-LEADERS FIND A GOOD BFF AND STICK BY THEMfriends

If you have a good BFF I encourage you to share this post with them and thank them for being a friend and accepting you with all your faults, frailties, and quirks.

Photo Credits: https://www.pinterest.com/jenner44/peppermint-patty/

Read more Lessons on Leadership I learned from Peanuts.

Transgender Boys Wins Texas State Title: the Right and Wrong of It

“Mack Beggs identifies as a boy, but his birth certificate says he’s a girl. In Texas’ University Interscholastic League, that means that the high school wrestler can only compete against girls, even though he takes testosterone as part of his transition.”-Chuck Schilken, Contact Reporter, Los Angeles Times

The article further states that Mack won the state title with a 56-0 record for the year.  Some of the wins by forfeit because some competitors refused to wrestle against her; not because she identifies as a boy, but because she takes testosterone supplements which they feel give her an unfair advantage because as the physician quoted in the article stated the treatments “are in the same family and have the effect of increasing muscle mass and strength gains.” (Mines 2017)

In light of MMA fighter Fallon Fox routinely crushing her opponents before revealing a sex change operation, and giving one of her opponents a concussion and a broken eye socket; their fears may not be unfounded.

Here is where the league/district got it wrong.

In an effort to be fair to one student, they were unfair to the rest of the students. The article states that Mack’s use of testosterone were “well below the allowed level,” according to the Washington Post. Did the other students competing against Mack know there was an “allowable level” and were they given the opportunity to take that “allowable level” if they so desired?  Is the district opening themselves up to reverse discrimination lawsuits as a result?

According to the article the reason Mack did not compete against the boys was because the rules expressly state that one must compete according to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Here is where the district league got it right.

To eliminate all the confusion over gender issues they keep things simple.  If your birth certificate says boy.  Then you compete with the boys.  If it says girl, then you compete as a girl.  I don’t know much about how that all works once the change is complete, but I believe once a complete sex change has taken place, meaning all subsequent operations have been performed, then the person undergoing the procedure can legally have their name and gender changed.  If you want to certify this, I suggest you consult with an attorney or conduct further research on your own.

School officials have it tough today.  The rules were simple 50, 30, even 20 years ago. Not so today. Therefore we should have some compassion for the people who have to sort through all this stuff and make decisions on complex issues.  Sometimes the best way to do that is to keep it simple.

Here’s where the parents got it wrong

I wonder about the wisdom of allowing any young person under the age of 21 making  major, life altering decisions at critical junctures of human development such as adolescence. I don’t know the personal details of this family, but I hope that counseling and mental health services are being taken advantage of to ensure that this is the best option for this young person.  There is and will always be debate on whether or not LBGT’s are born that way or made as a result of some life altering occurrence, but no one can argue that the decision to become transgendered in preparation for a complete sex change is not something to be taken lightly, and I’m not comfortable with allowing a young person under the age of 18 to begin this process. We have laws designed to prevent young people from underage drinking that were set up to protect them from becoming alcoholics.  Why do we not do the same for life altering procedures?

Here is where the parents got it right

Parenting is a tough job.  Sure books on parenting abound, but there is no book to teach you how to raise YOUR child.  I may not agree with how these parents are handling this situation, but I applaud them for trying to be supportive of something they may find frightening and difficult to understand.  These are uncharted waters for them as well so it may be they have no clue what to do or how to handle it.  I know what I think I would do, but then, it’s not my child. Obviously these parents love their child unconditionally and in a world that won’t, isn’t that one of the most fundamental jobs of parents?

Here’s where the crowd got it wrong

You don’t boo young people. Unless the person is exhibiting crass behavior, acting a complete fool, or being totally disrespectful, adults should not be booing young people who have achieved a well earned victory.  We may not like how Mack won, but by all accounts this young person attempted to follow the rules set by the adults.  Now that the adults see the outcome, they should set about working together to make the future fair for everyone. Some are attempting to do that with a lawsuit that states she should either be able to compete against the boys or “prevent him from taking part the girls’ postseason competition…“I don’t know if that is the proper solution.  By forcing her to compete against the boys I wonder what Pandora’s box will be opened as a result.  We have already witnessed the potential for carnage of allowing a former male to compete against females in the MMA. Neither do I think a person who works hard should be denied their right to compete.  Might a better option be to prohibit the use of the testosterone during the sports season?

As a person of color, I have experienced first hand the inequities of sports.  Our sports teams were routinely cheated against by unfair, corrupt, and racist officials and we were hurt and angered by the injustice.  Our coaches taught us to work harder and pushed us further because they knew the only way we could beat that unjust system was to be better.  As a result, our teams won back to back state titles in basketball and football; and were consistently  ranked amongst the top in our league.

For those female competitors this unfair competition sucks!  I get that. I’ve lived it. I encourage you to work harder.  Find your advantage and overcome this obstacle.  To Mack, growing up is tough.  There isn’t  person on the planet who hasn’t struggled in some way with finding their personal identity.  I pray that God will guide you to His place of peace.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here’s what I know.

God desires to walk with us during our struggles.  If we allow God to be the center of our universe, He will guide us through every problem we face. Whether it is gender identity, or unfair competition we should seek the face of the one who made us and ask Him to help us, to guide us and our decisions, and help us to make sense of a world that sometimes seems to make no sense.

Transgender Bathrooms and the Common Sense of Kids

It’s in the news again!

So I took a poll.

It’s not official or anything like that.

But I just wanted to know what kids thought about the whole transgendered bathroom thing.

It makes sense to ask them right? I mean they stand to be the most affected by these rules or wanna be rules so I thought it pertinent to ask them what they thought.

So I started by asking my own brood, then their friends, and then their friends friends.

I thought it would get real deep you know?

Surprisingly it didn’t.

In a nutshell, here are their responses in no particular order.

Who cares?

I don’t know why people are making such a big deal of this anyway. I don’t know any transgendered people. As far as I know there are none at my school.

Why do they need a special bathroom? If you have a penis go to the boys and if you have a vagina go to the girls.

Don’t they have unisex and family bathrooms? Go to those.

In science class they taught us that xx=girl and xy=boys.  Did that change?

One particularly brilliant girl asked me to define transgender because as she stated: “if they have transcended gender, then wouldn’t they have had the surgery and body parts altered, and therefore would actually be of the opposite sex, which means they wouldn’t need a special bathroom because they would be either a girl or a boy.  In which case they would go to the stall that is currently appropriate based on the current body parts they now possessed.

DANG! That was pretty deep.  But that’s as deep as it got.

I loved one young man’s response.

I think I’m pretty special; can I have my own bathroom?

I hear you dude. I want my own too.  And I want it to be decorated in a Star Wars theme with the Millennium Falcon as my own personal throne, and Lando Calrissian as my personal attendant.

millenium-falcon

Now that’s worth marching on Washington for!

Jesus May Be Lord of Your Life…But is the State Lord of Your Church?

Counterpoint to Ellen Rescinds Kim Burrell’s Invitation to Appear on Show

By Marion Witcher

Pastor Kim Burrell’s sermon left the church’s walls and spread like wildfire throughout the internet and into the ears of talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres.  Like dominoes falling—engagement after engagement tumbled away from her schedule.  Burrell was uninvited to the Ellen DeGeneres show and Houston-KTSU announced that it dropped her radio program.  Her television show was also cancelled and she was uninvited to BMI’s Trailblazer of Gospel Music annual celebration. Basically, these engagements were canceled because Burrell spoke against the homosexual lifestyle.

However, as stated in my last post, “Whether we approve of Ellen’s lifestyle or not, she is justified in exercising “her” conscience as it relates to Burrell’s controversial appearance on “her” show. In the same token, Burrell is justified in holding on to her beliefs whether someone agrees with her or not.

Reflecting upon the conflict of interest between Burrell and DeGeneres, I decided to focus on what I believe is a critically important topic.  That is, the freedom and right of clergy to speak.  Do pastors really have a right to preach, speak and teach about any topic?

According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel, Christiana Holcomb, “Churches should be free to teach their religious beliefs and operate their houses of worship according to their faith.  That is a foundational First Amendment principle.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Holcomb. It only makes sense that pastors be given the right to provide moral leadership while helping lay persons develop their faith in God.  After all, this is what they are called by God to do. As they walk in their divine calling,  “all” people should take note and recognize that not only have clergy been issued authority by God to speak truth, but our government reinforces that right within the first Amendment. This right was passed by Congress on September 25th, 1789 and ratified on December 15,1791, which reads:

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Under the First Amendment Rights, the pastor determines what is said from the pulpit, not the IRS. Free in spirit and walking in truth the Pastor can preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as led by the Holy Spirit.  On the other hand, when a church chooses to become a 501 3 (c) incorporation the religious freedom clause of the first amendment ceases to apply. In other words, pastors and evangelists who sign their church on to become 501 3 (c) incorporated, lose their constitutional rights.

slide1

By law, the church is considered created by the State for the benefit of the public (not the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ).  If the IRS says you cannot say something from the pulpit, then you DO NOT have any constitutional rights to argue against them.  As far as the church becoming a 501 3 (c) in to order to become tax exempt for the purpose of receiving tithes and offering, a little research will reveal that the church just by nature of being a church is already tax exempt.   And just the fact that the church is a church, under the First Amendment Rights, the preacher has the right to preach the Gospel in power and in might.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. II Timothy 3:16-17

However, the rules changes when a church becomes a 501 3 (c), The preacher may not be able to preach sound doctrine regarding some topics.  Doing so may mean breaking the church’s covenant with the government. One could easily say that the minister’s voice is silenced because he has remarried.  The new partner is not as attractive, but must be respected.  The new partner’s name is Uncle Sam.  Married to Uncle Sam, the preacher or evangelist must hush his voice.  He must walk in the integrity of his prenuptial agreement or lose his tax-exempt status.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  II Corinthians 6:14

Folks, it is a serious matter when the church voluntarily submits its freedom to the  government.  In fact, Dave Hodges host of the Common Sense show says “Any church that encourages complete obedience to a corrupt government has taken a big step towards accepting the Mark of the Beast. This is a very dangerous precedent, and this could potentially imperil the salvation of millions if Christians allow this false doctrine to expand across our nation’s churches. “

Whoa!  I am flabbergasted—but the truth is no man can serve two masters!

Resources:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7647840/kim-burrell-not-take-part-bmi-gospel-music-honors-anti-gay

http://davidfiorazo.com/2015/05/the-johnson-amendment-and-the-agenda-to-silence-christians/

http://www.creationliberty.com/articles/501c3.php

http://www.hushmoney.org

About Marion Ferguson Witcher

An eloquent and gifted speaker, Marion Ferguson Witcher has taken her past experiences and used them to help others through a non-profit she founded, New Hope for Special Needs.  With her husband, Veroman and others working alongside her, NHFSN is committed to encouraging families of children with special needs and the professionals that support them. They have also invested their own funds and with the help of other philanthropists created the philanthropic hand of New Hope for Special Needs.  This enabled NHFSN to provide numerous scholarships to college students majoring in special education.

Marion and her husband, Veroman  are the parents of two adult children, Ashley and Verano.  Their daughter is challenged with autism and epilepsy, and alternates between a wheelchair and walker.  As a result, the couple knows firsthand the joys, challenges, and struggles of raising a child with a disability within the context of the family, faith community, public school system, and society in general. 

Many people in and outside of the church’s walls have been touched by Marion’s faith-inspiring messages.  She also appropriately delivers thought-provoking messages to main stream audiences as a keynote speaker and workshop leader. 

Marion is an award-winning magazine writer, motivational speaker, and founder of New Hope for Special Needs.The mission provides faith-based support to  persons with intellectual challenges, their families and support systems. She has received numerous awards for her work related to advocating for children with special needs and their families including Community Advocate.   Inspired by her experience of being a mother of a child challenged with autism, in 2004, she wrote, Sowing My Tears, Reaping His Joy.  She is the founder of Autism: A Language Worth Knowing and the His Ability Over Disability Celebration.

Homeschooling and Socialization: Are the Myths True?

web%20photo-children%20around%20the%20world_2
mskinderwikispaces.com

 

By Lena Arnold

Many years ago, when we first contemplated homeschooling, our family and many friends were aghast!

“You have to be really disciplined!” My aunt said.  “I know I could never be that disciplined.”  What she really meant was, “I know YOU can never be that disciplined.”

To be fair, I can be a little on the disorganized side, however, despite this I still managed to graduate from high school at the top of my class, graduate from college (twice), and manage a successful professional career. I reminded her, that in order to accomplish these feats, I must be able to be ORGANIZED when it counts.

Okay, so I won that argument against homeschooling, but then she countered with, “What about SOCIALIZATION…?” She stated, drawing out the dreaded S word like it was a curse.  “Aren’t you worried your kids will be weird, or not have any friends.  They will never learn to socialize or make friends for life. There are no other black people homeschooling around her, so you are on your own.”

Well, I have to admit, on that count she’d tapped into my fears. Then I thought about it, “How many friends have I had for “life.” Hmm, out of all the “friends” I’d made over the years, with the exception of two, (one my childhood best friend, and the other from high school) all of my true friends had been made during adulthood. Plus, I knew if we were considering it, others were either homeschooling or considering it.

So how would we deal with this “socialization” thing?

Step One began with prayer.  I said to God, “Lord YOU made these children and YOU know what is best for them.  Steer us in the right direction and help them make friends.

Step Two began with creating opportunities for them to make friends based on similar interests. In some cases they joined group clubs such as Girl/Boy Scouts and 4-H, Church groups, etc. Where clubs didn’t exist we created them, or became leaders and coaches.

Step Three-We actively sought out other parents with similar goals and values.  This is how the local Black Homeschoolers movement began in our community. When on homeschool outings, if I met other blacks with their children I would ask them if they homeschooled as well.  If they did, they were invited to be part of the group.  If not, I’d still connected with a parent whose child had similar interest.  Oh, and we did not limit our connections to exclusively black groups, since learning how to connect with people of other cultures was and is just as important as connecting with your own.

Step Four consisted of volunteering in places where our kids would have an opportunity to connect with other kids.

Step Five-Participation in co-ops.  Many communities have homeschool groups and co-ops families can be a part of.  Some are based on religious values, some cultural.  But the vast majorities are open and available to participation without consideration of race, religion, etc.  The common denominator of most is simply homeschooling.

Here’s the beauty of all these connections, we are making friends too. And since the parents are connecting, that means these children are more likely to stay connected as well, unlike school where the connections often end at the end of a school day, year, or graduation.

So not only have were socialization fears been unfounded, they didn’t even exist.

But for those of you who are still not convinced and need empirical data, let me drop this on you.

hdsla
To Learn More About Homeschooling Visit Homeschool Legal Defense Association

http://www.hslda.org/

In 2003, the Home School Legal Defense Association commissioned the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated. Conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, the study surveyed over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. Over 5,000 of these had been home educated at least seven years, and the statistics in this synopsis are based on their responses. The results confirm what homeschoolers have thought for years: No problem…

Value of Higher Education

The report, which can be found in it’s entirety on their webstite clearly shows that Over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18 to 24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States population. Note that nearly half (49%) of the respondents in this study were still full-time students at the time of the survey.

Involved in their communities

Homeschool graduates are more active and involved in their communities than traditionally school students. Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages. Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.

Civic affairs: engaged citizens

Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults. For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18 to 24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population.

Appreciating their alma mater (and pater)

Ninety-Five percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed are glad that they were homeschooled and 82% would homeschool their own children. Of the 812 study participants who had children age 5 or older, 74% were already homeschooling..

Conclusion of Research

The results of Dr. Ray’s cutting-edge research defuses long-held false criticisms of homeschooling and seem to indicate that homeschooling produces successful adults who are actively involved in their communities and who continue to value education for themselves and their children.

On a side note, all our kids are now in school and socializing quite nicely!

For the sake of brevity, I will conclude this week’s article with the above data, but come back next week, when I will add part 2 of this blog with additional data from other sources. For more information on homeschooling visit Dayton Black Homeschool Network

Take Charge of Your Pain

by Lena Fields-Arnold

genie-in-bottle-aladdinGod is my genie in a bottle and he is supposed to do what I ask, when I ask!

Or so I believed when I first became a Christian. The moment I was plagued with any illness, instead of reaching for medicine, I reached for my Bible, believing that God was obligated to immediately heal any headache, cold, or ailment attacking my body! After all, didn’t God’s word say, “By His stripes we are healed?”

So after more than 12 years of infertility I had had enough! “God what is wrong! Why aren’t you listening to me? Why haven’t you healed me?” I shouted.

Not only did I not receive an answer, but I got more heartache and even more experience with illness and human suffering when my beloved mother was diagnosed with cancer. Toward the end of her three year ordeal, I knew God was not going to heal her. During that ordeal, and the trial of my own infertility I was left to ponder, “What does God’s word really say about healing?”

Phillip Yancey, in his book, Where is God When it Hurts, wonders the same thing. In his attempt to answer the questions he suggests that pain and suffering could be tools that God uses to draw us nearer to Him. Like me he knew that God is fully capable of healing whenever and wherever he wants and the Bible provides ample proof of that fact. So when God chooses not to heal, us mortal beings are left to wonder, why?

Pain is terrible, and Yancey describes the powerful destruction pain can have upon our lives.

Yet he also eloquently paints us a portrait of pains equally powerful purpose to inform. Pain tells our body that something is wrong. It motivates us to do something. Whether that something is reaching for a bottle of medicine or reaching out for God’s strength, we are compelled to do something, for doing nothing will most certainly bring us swift destruction.

Dr. Carolyn L. Gordon, suggests that pain become a catalyst to make us better people. Instead of asking, -why, Dr. Gordon suggests our response be to ask-what? What are you doing in my life Lord? What are you trying to teach me? In what way will my suffering benefit humanity and serve the greater good?

God promises us that all things work together for the good of them that love God-to those who are called according to his purpose. Not some things, but all things.

I do not pretend to know, nor understand how my mother’s cancer has worked together for good. But I can say this, I never saw my mother bemoan her plight. I never witnessed her wallowing in self pity. I witnessed her trusting God all the way the end. I witnessed a woman who never wavered in her faith and who served God with every breath she had in her body. I witnessed a woman who told God that she would gladly die if her family would develop a relationship with God.

During that three year ordeal I witnessed a miracle. Not the doe eyed, naïve, believe God is my fairy God mother miracle type of healing that I believed in when I first gave my life to the Lord. But the kind of miracle that lasts forever.

The miracle of a woman who stood firm in her faith, even though she may have felt like God had abandoned her. That’s the kind of faith God wants us to have. I held on to that faith after she died. I had to, because now I understood that God was not my genie in a bottle and that he was not obligated to heal me just because I asked him. But I kept right on asking anyway, because my mother taught me. She said, “Marie, I ask because what if God says yes?”

What if God says yes!

While I am waiting I will extol him. I will live life in the fullest way that I can. If all I can do is move my mouth to form a prayer I will pray. If he says no, I will still serve him and I will still praise him. Ah, but when he says yes, I will shout from the rooftops about this great God that I serve. I know it is hard and it is painful, but I am a witness that God will bring you through it.

No matter what illness, ordeal, or trial you are facing right now, remember to pray. Remember that God loves you. It’s difficult when we don’t know the purpose for the trial we are facing, but you can face this adversity when you change your focus. Stop asking why and start asking what! Take charge of it and do not give Satan credit by saying, “the devil has attacked me today.” Satan has no power over you except what God allows to make you better, faster and stronger than you were before!

Yes, I know it is a corny reference to the Six Million Dollar Man (one of my favorite shows WAY back in the day!) But you know whatever works to make the point right! Okay so look, Steve Austin had to endure this horrible accident, which by the way occurred while he was in the middle of doing his job.

six-million-dollar-manThe accident almost killed him and left him mangled and just about destroyed. During the surgery he was totally unaware that there were doctors working over him and who had the audacity to claim that they could re-build him and make him even better than he was before.

Can you believe that? They stole that premise right out of the Word of God!

God is the potter and we are the clay and when he is pressing us and squeezing us, He is shaping us into a vessel of honor fit to be used. In the process we are made better, faster, and stronger. You are so much better than a fictional character. You are part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation; so take charge today and ask God, what are you doing with me today?

When You EMBRACE Your Shame, You ERASE Your Shame: Using the discomforting moments in your life to give honor to God!

Excerpted from the book by Lena Arnold entitled “Scenes From the City: Poetic Pictures of Urban Life” available on Amazon.

Several years ago I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation that resulted in three of the most humiliating hours of my life!

For months, I wouldn’t talk to anyone about what happened, because I was afraid of what people would think when they found out.  Surprisingly what I discovered was an appreciation for my honesty and candor; as well as a God ordained moment to minster to someone with similar hurts and pains.  Our discussions initially brought on tears of release, followed by laughter and joy as we found new ways to giggle about what had previously injured us.

stay-in-bed

“Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

How often have I repeated this scripture without a clear understanding of its meaning?

For me, the joy came from the confession.  The Bible also states that when we “confess our sins; God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   Please know, that the sin has already been forgiven, so the confession is not really to forgive the sin, but to provide us with absolution from the guilt we often feel within ourselves.  Confession further purifies the mind from the enemy’s thoughts of condemnation.

For example:  Let’s say, in your previous life you were a person who liked to drink.  As a result of too many drinks, you engaged in some very embarrassing, dangerous, and/or illicit acts.  You have since been sober for 5 years, but your friends constantly find new ways to report your past sins to people you didn’t really want to have that information.

What do you do?

I have found that when I talk about myself, I leave no room for people to talk about me.  People cannot whisper in the shadows what I have already shouted from the rooftops.

What were once embarrassing occasions now become opportunities for testimony!

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn away from them, they will receive mercy.”-Proverbs 28:13 (NLV)

When my husband and I were going through the trial of infertility, we spoke to no one about the secret shame we felt regarding our inability to conceive.  For years we walked behind a veil of sadness and shame.  We masked the shame well, but inside we were bound and broken.  But when we began to confess our feelings and share the struggle, we realized that there was a whole community of wounded people who felt the same way we did, and who also had no one to talk with about their feelings.

As we spoke to one another and opened up our hearts, we were all emotionally and mentally healed in the process, and many were physically healed as well.  The discussion prompted all of us to take stock of our physical conditions and seek the medical treatment we didn’t know was available to us.

“You cannot make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.”

slide2

BUT suppose it’s not a sin that bothers you, but rather something you consider being a frailty.  Before we had children we had one of the cleanest houses in North America!  Friends always commented on how neat and orderly our house was.  Three children within two years later, and it’s a whole different story.  While my house is not nasty, it is often cluttered and unkempt.

These same friends, who have been my rock, never fail to remind me of how clean our house was before we had children.  Initially their comments bothered me, and made me feel inadequate.  Then one day I realized that our house wasn’t messy because we were slobs, it was messy because our values had changed.  My husband and I value happy, healthy, mannerable, and well adjusted children, and our house reflects that.

It reflects that I, as a stay-at-home mother,  have chosen to embrace my messiness; because for me toys on the floor means my kids play happily, books strewn over the table means my kids are learning well, and dirty dishes in the sink means my kids have plenty of food and are eating properly prepared meals.  Today, thanks to another friend who understands, there is now a sign over my door that reads, “My house was clean last week.  Sorry you missed it!”

Now when people comment on the condition of my house I tell them thank you for the kindest compliment you could ever give.  No one can make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.

 So today, as you go forth worried over your sins, concerned about your faults, or overly troubled regarding your frailties; I ask that you consider all of your challenges as an opportunity to bring glory to God, bring about your own healing, and provide therapy to others who are being tested by many of the same problems.

Now I understand that there are some things you absolutely cannot talk about with everyone. And there are things you can talk about with everyone, but just not right now.  For those issues, I urge you to find a support group and prayerfully consider seeking a compassionate and encouraging network of close friends who will partner with you in prayer and even fasting if that is what it takes to break the chains that are keeping you bound.

Once you have been healed, seek God regarding how, when, and in what manner your confessions to others outside of that network will take place.

It might be on the bus, the church pew, or a prison cell, but God is able to take what once was a source of shame and pain for you, and make it a starting place of witness.

I challenge you today to embrace your shame, for in doing so; you will erase your shame and cover a multitude of sins.

hug

 

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Princess Leia and Tanka Challenge

by Lena Fields-Arnold

carrie_fisher_2013
carriefisher.com

I was at work today when I heard the news of Carrie Fisher’s death.

I was sad.

I have officially reached the age when the icons of my childhood are dying.

Much too young.

Michael Jackson-my first love!

Prince-much respect for the sheer musical genius!

George Michaels-who could not love Careless Whisper. Seriously, there is something wrong with you if you don’t love this song.

But today it’s all about Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leia and the leadership lessons I learned from both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia.

Princess Leia was my first official SHERO.  Sure before her there was Wonder Woman and Supergirl-but they were nothing compared to the bad-ass space princess that was Leia. See because Leia was real. She had a dysfunctional family, she started the movie with a really bad hair day, (what girl can’t relate to those two crazy buns on the side of her head,) she was emotionally insecure despite her bravery, bravado and beauty.  She was relatable. Plus she had blasters, droids, handsome dudes in love with her, and she traveled through space!

princess-leia-1Sure she may have come from family that had “The Force” but Leia was all grit! Her true power came from the courage she displayed in the face of cruelty. Leia came from a wealthy family and could have been content to live in comfort, but she chose to pursue the cause of justice and righteousness even to her own detriment.  She made you believe a girl could do anything and she made it look good.  I’m telling you George Lucas called it right when he created her character, but it took the acting prowess of a Carrie Fisher to pull it off.  Think about it-I defy you to name one actress-living or dead who could have pulled off the role of Princess Leia other than Carrie Fisher.  Maybe you can do it, but I can’t and frankly don’t wanna.

Real Leaders are willing to fight for truth, liberty, freedom, and justice!

With regard to the real life persona of Carrie Fisher, she was quirky, honest, transparent, and emotionally vulnerable, but like Leia-she also had grit.

I learned from her the importance of admitting and acknowledging your frailties.  It took a series of hard knocks for her to learn this lesson and her past mistakes are probably what led to her untimely demise-nevertheless when she shared her stories we embraced them.  We did so, not because we believe she made the best choices, but because she owned them. That is a lesson we can all take to heart.  When you mess up-own it!  Sure she could have blamed it all on the addictions she struggled with, but she didn’t. I like her for that.  I would not want to have lived her life.  There are times when she didn’t want to live her life.  But she did it-and in doing so, she taught us the importance of having the courage to wake up one more day and try one more time.  Just when she was finding herself again, and giving us a “New Hope” she is gone.  I will miss her.

Real Leaders Embrace their Shame and in doing so-ERASE IT!

So-here’s the challenge.

I have started a Tanka in honor of Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia and I challenge any willing Carrie Fisher fan to add to the tanka so that together we can create a tanka train. If you write poetry you already know that a tanka is a type of Japanese poetry similar to a haiku. It consists of 5 lines in the following pattern.

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

7 syllables

7 syllables

Tankas use simile, metaphor and personification and are typically written about nature, seasons, love, sadness or other strong emotions.

I invite you to add to the train by writing your tanka in the comments.  At the end of the week I will put them all together in one post as one poem.  All writers will be credited for the final piece and their sections within the piece.  I claim no ownership to those individual sections and the final piece will be available to anyone via the creative commons license-free to use and share.

All participants will be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy of Carrie Fishers book The Princess Diarist.  By drawing I mean I will put every name on an index card, throw them in the air and the first card my dog steps on will be the winner.  That’s about as fair as it gets around this house.

So I hope you will take the challenge, not just for the prize, but for the fun of remembering two cool characters-the fictional Princess Leia and the very real Carrie Fisher. Be sure to include a link to your blog.

The Princess Tanka-A Poem by Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia Fans

bulletins blaring

stinging news of bad tidings

Princess Leia lost

Carrie gone to walk with sky

star wars will not be the same

lenafieldsarnold.wordpress.com

Christmas with Chitlin’s

By Lena Fields-Arnold & Penda Horton-James

©Copyright 2010

I never understood why my grandmother made chitlin’s (chitterlings) every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hardly anyone ever ate them!  Well, almost no one.  Invariably every year, grandpa would fix a big, heaping plateful and exclaim, “Ya’ll don’t know what ya’ll missing – this is good eating right here!” (He said that, but I never saw him eat more than two bites before he snuck the napkin over his plate.)
chitlins-2
Photo Credit: germainesolutions.com

Nevertheless, she would spend hours the night before cleaning and cooking them. Every year they sat on that stove; smelling up that big, old, brown and black stained, tin pot; that she must have owned since she was a little girl.

Chitlin’s and Christmas go together like macaroni and cheese, ribs cooked on the grill, angels in the snow, singing and poppin’ fingers.

Grandma would splash the chitlin’s in hot water with chunks of lemon and say, “This is a hard job baby.” I used to turn my nose up at the task, “I want to make sure they are clean.”

I don’t know if she ever took breaks to rest her butt cheeks.  She’d stand there, varicose veins bulging, and the television or radio on to keep her company. Her hands would periodically disappear into that sink full of chitlin’s as she pulled up pieces to separate. (Ugh! I couldn’t watch her do that part.)

“Grandma cleans the hell out of them chitlin’s don’t she girl.”  Grandpa would say. “Yeah, sweating and pulling, boiling and scrubbing, she takes her job seriously.”

She sure did!  With every movement, of separating the good from the bad, Grandma was pouring her love into the water, “I don’t want nobody to get sick. These chitlin’s have to be squeaky clean before I put them on my table.”

I never said a word out of respect for her, but I secretly wondered how anything that smelled that bad could ever really be clean.

Every year, each of us, took our turns lifting up that lid and remarking on the stink that came out.  Each year, each of us slammed that lid down just as fast as fast as we had lifted it up.  Each of us, in turn would ask grandma the same question “Why do you make this every year?  You know that no one is going to eat them?”

Grandma would only smile and say, “Somebody will.”

chitlin-seasoningRight about the time the 10th relative came through the door, cousin Cleavon would sashay in and say, “Who it is got that slave food cookin’ in heah?”  We’d all laugh. And that laughter would lead to an hour long debate on the merits and “demerits” of chitlin’s.  Most seemed to agree that we’d been delivered from possum, chicken feet, and ox tails.  None among our generation would eat a raccoon, and that would lead to another hour long story telling session about how Uncle MC and Uncle A.D. got chased by a momma raccoon back in 1964.

They kept us in stitches ‘bout how they had tracked that raccoon, and had finally had her cornered at the back entrance to a cave, when that momma raccoon turned on them.  “Jumped the dog, who went running for his life,” 75year old uncle MC would start.  “Pert near snatched the gun right outta my hand. Then she looked at me ‘n’ said, ‘Mister, I got three young ‘uns here.  You gotta let me be, else ain’t gonna be no ‘coon for you to shoot at next year.”

“Grandpa, ain’t no raccoon talked to you for real did it?” Asked a wide eyed Sunnie.

“Why it sho’ did!” He exclaimed.

“Jumped right onto the tip of my gun and asked for a reprieve it did?”

“What’s a repreeeveeee?

“A reprieve is when someone asks you for a pardon?

“What’s a pardon?”

“A pardon is what we gonna have to give your uncle MC for tellin’ these big old lies.”

When everyone finished laughing, another round of tall tales session would startup about hunting trips from years past for possum, squirrels, and rabbits. The younger folks would start to moan, and by the time the talk got around to hogshead cheese, ox tail soup, chicken feet, livers, gizzards, and pigs feet and other such meat—NONE of us would dare to eat today; they would all be ready to puke! While the older folks would get to lickin’ their lips as they reminisced about fixing that meat with collard and dandelion greens, black eyed peas, red beans and rice, and polk salad. They would salivate at the thought of soppin’ up the fatback flavored, pot liquor with big hunk of cornbread.

The middle aged group (which I was now an unwilling part of) would secretly thank God for deliverance from the massa’s throw away food, while at the same time openly thanking Him for those fatback flavored greens and cornbread. Once, Aunt Cat (in her organic phase) decided to make some greens without fatback and she was almost stoned to death! She could have at least put a ham bone in there or something! I mean, we were some dumb, but not plumb dumb.  A well cooked plate of greens and cornbread would never go unappreciated.

Everybody that ate Grandma’s chitlin’s got excited. Shrieks of “Ooh chitlin’s!,” was more of an exclamation than a question. The non-chitlin eaters who roll their eyes and turn their noses don’t deter the hard core eaters who respond with, “Good, more for me.”

“I remember how the chitlin’s used to tickle when they slid down my throat.” Aunt Cat said, both  repulsed and happy at her memory.  “My ears and my mouth seemed to come alive and sing in a symphonic praise. My taste buds stood at attention and I always had to close my eyes and pull my cheeks really taut to keep from laughing.”

“Yeeess!” Emanated from a small chorus of chitlin lovers seated around the table.

Hot Sauce Photo Shoot
Photo Credit: Damon Dahlen Huffington Post

“Chewing was necessary, but not too much or I’d miss the hot sauce and lemon juice. They masked the smell, and strengthened the taste. My brother put so much on his chitlin’s that they look like French fries doused with ketchup.” We all looked at his plate, she was right. He had that hot sauce on his chitlin’s and his cole slaw.

“It will heal your high blood pressure and your baby’s asthma.” Uncle M.C. happily chimed.

Aunt Cat rolled her eyes, “Don’t start MC.” She pointed her fork of greens at him.

“You need to put them turnips down and eat some po-ke.”

“Ain’t nobody fixing to eat no po-ke.”  She said while slurping up another forkful of greens.

“You was raised on po-ke, ain’t nothing wrong with it. Our grandparents ate po-ke and they lived to be almost 100 years old. Mama eats po-ke and she ain’t never been sick a day in her life.”

“That’s interesting MC, how is it that Mama never got sick a day in her life and I’m half her age with obesity and hypertension?”

“Cause you need some po-ke!” The room got silent.

As we lustily breathed in the goodness of the greens and chattered about the stench of the chitlin’s, it made us all remember. It made us remember—stolen ancestors, and triangular trade routes, sales blocks, snatchings, away, hard toil, rapes and lynching’s. Made us remember civil rights struggles, unfair prison systems, and current states of unfair treatments.

Christmas and chitlin’s go together like strength and simplicity.

We were reminded of how Grandma could not register to vote in Barnesville, Georgia because she couldn’t answer the question, “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” Grandma was part of a generation who had to make the best out of what they were given.

Mostly though, the smell of chitlin’s made us remember.  Made us remember the stories of courage, and love, and hope passed on through generations audacious enough to defy the odds and survive!  So that when Thanksgivings and Christmas’s roll around we are really thankful for all that God has brought us through and protected us from.

“Me, a slave?” Cousin Deena insisted. “If my passion for social justice is any indication, I would have gotten myself into some serious trouble back in the day. They probably would have cut my tongue or chopped my foot off like they did Kunta Kente.”

We laughed when Uncle Oscar reminded her, “You probably would have been a house negro with that good hair and light skin, anyway.”

“Yup” she agreed, “Ya’ll woulda been eating good when I snuck food from the big house back to the cabin.”

We remember those times and we are thankful for  the present. That appreciative spirit is constantly kept alive by that old, greasy pot of chitlin’s sitting untouched on that stove.

So now, here it is, a year after Grandma’s death.  I am outside braving the cold with my husband’s painter’s mask on my face; a hose in my hand and a big bucket washing chitlin’s. (Sorry, grandma had her way and I have mine.)

I don’t even know if anyone ever thanked Grandma for staying up all night cooking, and sacrificing her own sleep to give us a spread you can’t get at a restaurant buffet. She would cross off each menu item with her big black marker that hung on the refrigerator. She slashed through that list like a gladiator and we feasted like we’d been the ones to slay the dragon.

Christmas and chitlin’s go together like sacrifice and selflessness.

I cook those chitlin’s with the same love and care my grandma did.  I season them to taste just like grandma did. (Though between you and me, I never actually taste them.)  I cook them in that same brown and black stained tin pot that grandma had from childhood.

I leave them sitting on that stove-just like my grandma did.

Then, I wait patiently for the arrival of my 11th guest.  I smile when I see him sashay through the door and exclaim, “Who it is got that slave food cooking in heah?”

The End

 

Lena Arnold is an award winning author endorsed by the late CBS News Correspondent Ed Bradley. She is the Publisher of Emperor Publishing and the author of several books, including “In the Absence of My Father,” “Strong Black Coffee: Poetry and Prose to Enlighten, Encourage, and Entertain Americans of African Descent,” “For This Child We Prayed: Living with the Secret Shame of Infertility,” and “For This Dream I Prayed: Companion Journal,” “Scenes from the City,” and “Jackie’s Way” a children’s book on anger management and bullying in collaboration with with Columbus based artist Michael Fields.

Penda L. James is a native of Dayton, Ohio. At Wilberforce University Penda cultivated her love for editing and coaching writers as the Editor in Chief of the Mirror Newspaper. Although writing and reading were loves for a long time, Penda did not appreciate her own gift to be a scribe until graduating from Bowling Green State University and working with “raw talent” in her community. Through her business, InSCRIBEd Inspiration, LLC, Penda seeks to coach writers and help them fulfill their dream of being published. She is the editor and publisher of “Free to Fly: Transitions for the Seasons in a Woman’s Life,” “Girl Pray for Me,” and “Girl Walk with Me.”

The Flower from God

by Lena Fields-Arnold © 2016

It was one of those days.  You all know about them.  We all have them from time to time-days when our frustrations with people get the best of us. It was the kind of day when concerns weigh you down.  It was the end of a long day spent with me, trying to save a friendship on the verge of ruin, pontificating about the craziness of politics, and despairing about the current racial climate of our country.

An hour before the flower I had literally been crying while processing on the phone with my cousin who reminded me that I had a sistafriend in her who I could always lean on.  As we talked, we laughed together as we remembered the good times we shared.  She made me feel better.

flower

She always had a way of reminding me that despite what is going on in the world-even in my world-God is always there and He would work things out, not only in my life, but ultimately the world at large. After we talked, I picked up my kids from piano practice and headed to the store to pick up a few groceries. In the line a noticed a woman behind me who was purchasing a whole bunch of glass vases with flowering plant bulbs, very similar to one my mother-in-law had received for Christmas last year.  I remember thinking, “Those are cute.  I wonder where they were? They must have a really good sale on those.  I wonder if she is having a party?” But saying, “No you cannot have that fudge it has wheat in it.  Can you guys get me an empty box?  Please stop picking with your sister!”

You guys know how that goes.

As we packed the boxes I totally forgot about the woman with the flowers and thought only on my wonderful children who dutifully packed the boxes with groceries (including the stuff they sneaked in the cart-you know how that goes right?)

While we loaded the vehicle, I noticed an SUV parked behind us but only thought of it long enough to wonder if they would be moved out of the way when I was ready to pull out.  As I got in the car I heard a voice say, “Ma’am, excuse me but I have something for you.”  Ordinarily the wary cynic and martial artist in me would be on high alert if a stranger walked up on me like that, but this time as  I looked up I felt only peace.  To my surprise standing before my window was the woman with the flowers.  “The Lord impressed upon me to give this to you.  You are a wonderful mother.” She said.

I was stunned! I was almost rendered speechless by her gift.  I was again on the verge of tears, but this time it was because of joy.  I could tell she was a little nervous, but she had moved outside of her comfort zone and obeyed God. I gave her a heartfelt thank you then lifted the vase in her presence up to the sky and said, “Thank you Lord!”  She told me to have a good night and just like that she got in her vehicle and was gone.

Let me tell you, that moment was awesome and amazing on so many levels I don’t even know how to effectively communicate it.  God did so many things for me and my family that it is difficult to explain, but I am going to try.

By using His servant to give me that flower, God demonstrated  His love for me according to  His word in Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”  That’s how I felt in that moment-like God’s only beloved.

The flower from God reminded me that as long as His people are in the world we will always have friends, even if they are wrapped in the form of people we have never met.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Finally, In that woman of God moving outside of her cultural comfort zone, and giving a gift to a person of a different culture she renewed all of my family’s hopes that our country can and will change for the better.  Renewing hope in us that there are people who understand that God cares nothing about skin color, or race.

The flower from God renovated our near broken spirits regarding this country’s racial climate because it served as a reminder that God is not a respecter of persons and that no matter the climate, God has our back.  He will take care of us.

who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor,  for they are all the work of his hands?” -Job 34:19

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

So to the woman with the flowers, who gave not only me, but my entire family a priceless gift, I say “Thank You.  I look forward to seeing you again in heaven one day so that I can more fully share with you how much your small act-was bigger than you will ever know.”