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.

Non-Profit Salaries: Who Determines The Value of an Employee?

I have worked in non-profit since graduating from college.  It wasn’t so bad when I was in my 20’s. I had no kids, no mortgage, no car payment and was still living at home.  Working for peanuts then wasn’t that big of a deal.  I convinced myself that it was for a greater good and so the low pay was a trade-off for the good feeling I got from “giving back.”

That changed when I got screwed. I was promised a raise for all my hard work if a specific grant was received because of the extra work implementing it would entail.  When the funds were awarded I got the extra duties, but not the promised pay increase.  Since the additional monies were written into the grant I did not think it would be a problem, when six months into working on the project I inquired about the raise.  To my shock not only I was told there wasn’t money for a raise but that I was being greedy for even asking about it.  When I reminded my boss that the additional money for the raise was written into the grant I received the following response. “You shouldn’t be in non-profit if you are trying to make money. No one should expect to get rich working for a non-profit.”

RICH! I wasn’t trying to get rich!  I just wanted the organization to honor its word.  No I wasn’t expecting silver and gold, but is it too much to ask to be able to make a decent living.  My expenses were growing as well as my job duties.  Why was I being made to feel guilty about asking for the decent and fair wage I was promised?

FAST FORWARD 20+ years and a vast amount of experience later and I am still hearing the same stupid statements.  They usually come out of the mouths of Executive Directors (incidentally the highest paid members of the non-profit staff,) or board members who can’t imagine a non-profit staff member earning as much as they do.

Who the (expletive in my head not typed ’cause I don’t want to offend any one-feel free to add your own though) made up this stupid rule?

When asked about their greatest staff retention challenges, the top two issues cited were “inability to pay competitively” (27 percent) and “inability to promote” (20 percent). Unfortunately, the use of the word “inability” only reinforces the impression that this is how the sector must operate. Organizations do have a choice in whether they prioritize staffing and retention, and ignoring these issues is already costing nonprofits money and impact.-ALLISON GAUSS 2016

Low salaries made sense in the early days when non-profits were founded by small religious groups who worked as the staff, or wives of wealthy tycoons.  As these organizations grew they had to hire staff to tend to the day to day affairs.  These days many non-profits are as large as big corporations and take in as much money.  They require more and more educated staff in order to operate, yet organizations still insist on dealing with human resources as if it is 1903.

Gauss also states that “The sector cannot attract and retain the talent it needs to solve huge social problems without investing in nonprofit salaries.” She references major league baseball teams who are willing to pay their standout talent millions of dollars in order to retain the best of the best.  They understand that the investment they make will reap them even greater rewards.

“BUT LENA-WE CAN’T PAY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO ONE EMPLOYEE.” I hear an Executive Director screaming.

Nor am I suggesting you should, but I am saying that by not investing in non-profit talent burnout is created, many of the best and brightest leave the non-profit world, or forego it altogether. As a result, you are losing out on major talent that can actually help your organization grow. It’s so bad that many adults are warning young people to avoid non-profit work altogether.

“BUT LENA-OUR DONORS WILL STOP GIVING IF OUR SALARIES ARE TOO HIGH.”

Maybe. Maybe not.  Most likely not.  Your donors work for a living.  They understand far more than they are given credit for.  CEO’s who run companies understand the importance of recruiting and retaining talent and the importance a good employee can bring to a bottom line.

BUT LENA, WE DON’T MAKE ANYTHING.  WE DON’T SELL ANYTHING!

Yes, you do.  1) You make people’s lives better. 2) You are selling yourself.  You are the product.  If the product is good people will buy it. But only if you have the right people in place to sell it.  Why are you not willing to pay the price to get the right “sales”people on your team?

I’m not the only one who thinks this.  More and more people are starting to rethink this whole “non profit employees should not worry about salary thing…”  That’s some straight up shiggity BS!  Don’t believe me.  Check out all the links below.

I love how Vu Le (“voo lay”) puts it down about this subject.  Vu Le is a writer, speaker, and Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps, a nonprofit in Seattle with the mission of developing and supporting leaders of color. In his article for the blog Non-Profit With Balls, he states “…society has the wacky and damaging notion that nonprofit staff should martyr ourselves. It’s perfectly OK for celebrities, athletes, and CEOs of companies producing soft drinks or gory video games or yoga pants to be paid millions, but God forbid anyone pay a nonprofit professional 100K to help end homelessness or cancer or whatever…Our field loses too many talented staff because we are mired in this mentality of scrappiness

RIGHT! Well said Vu Le.

JONATHAN TIMM’s in his article for the Atlantic acknowledges the challenges that non-profits face with regard to funding their organizations, while at the same time confronting the notion that these challenges are an excuse to low ball employees in the area of wages.  In his article Timm’s cites  Stuart Mitchell, the CEO of a human-services nonprofit called PathStone, who wrote that “paying a livable wage is the right thing to do not only for our deeply committed employees, but also for the participants that rely on our services.”  He ends his article with this statement from the representatives of 150 social-justice organizations who, signed a letter in support of former President Obama’s overtime rules writing, “It is time to revisit the idea that working for the public good should somehow mean requiring the lowest-paid among us to support these efforts by working long hours, many of which are unpaid.

I have way more to say on this subject, but not enough time.  I will say that the smart non-profits.  The ones that really want to be competitive in the 21st century will be the ones that are willing to challenge this notion that their employees should not be paid a competitive wage in line with public and private sector wages. Non-profit employees work as hard, and in many cases harder than their for-profit counterparts.They deserve to be adequately compensated for their work.  They fight for good causes everyday.  It’s time someone fought for them.

Resources

Low Nonprofit Salaries Are Costing You Money. (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2017, from https://www.classy.org/blog/low-nonprofit-salaries-costing-you-money/

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.

Homeschooling and Socialization: Are the Myths True?

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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

Frustrating the Frustration and Going on Staycation

By Lena M. Fields-Arnold

  • the feeling that accompanies an experience of being thwarted in attaining your goals
  • an act of hindering someone’s plans or efforts
  • a feeling of annoyance at being hindered or criticized

I used to hate frustration.  Recently, I find myself embracing it.  I am discovering that the more I am frustrated the better writer I become.  I obtain more material that actually propels me forward into my next goal of being a Pulitzer Prize winning poet.  Thus frustration, once an enemy designed to destroy me, has actually become my catalyst for effective performance.

The Greek philosopher Plato said that necessity is the mother of invention.  Well I say that frustration is the mother of creativity; for it is during my greatest moments of aggravation that the wheels in my brain turn, as I work on new and more inventive ways to overcome the annoyance.

For example, in the past several years I have been frustrated by my relatives who only call when they need something, or who want money.  They are never available for you when you need them, yet their wants consistently hindered my efforts to move forward in the direction God intended for my life.

It took a major life changing event to force me to personally embark upon a voyage of emancipation from them.  That is when I entered into the SEASON of ME! From this moment forward, my life would be about me! What I want, where I am going, and what legacy I want to leave my children.

So I warned everyone that if they wanted something from me, they had better be willing to give something back of value in return. In the past I almost allowed the frustrations they brought to destroy me.  I let their desires override mine, and became stagnant.

I did well for a while, but recently I saw these same users creeping back in, and I almost let them.  It started with a seemingly simple request.  A relative suggested that her daughter stay the summer to “help you with the kids.”

In reality, what she was looking for was free childcare under the guise of helping me.  I know this because she previously had manipulated five free summers out of me!

Ask me how many times this child’s mother has watched my kids for free in those five years?  You guessed it—NEVER! She is always TOO BUSY!

I have another relative who moved to town for more effective support.  I say more effective because she was leaving a town where she had supporting relatives.  She just didn’t have the all day sucker I can use you up type of support.  Enter us here, all hovering around to hold her up.  However before long we all started to notice that we were always supporting her, but she never supported us.  The stronger among us cut her off immediately.  The weaker, like me, just kept letting her use them.

Anytime I tried to say no to her babysitting requests, my family always had a way of making me feel guilty and I would cave. She got two summer’s free babysitting, and I got another headache.

Last year she doesn’t call me for a month.  When she finally does, she states that both her daughter and another cousin’s were coming to my house for two weeks. It made sense right because as she put it, “you are at home all day, and they can play with your daughter.” Never mind the fact that I have other kids, a husband, and a stay-at-home job—these two decided for me how two weeks of my life would be!

But she didn’t know that the Season of Me is inclusive of the Season of the Perpetual Staycation.  Technically a “Staycation” is a vacation, except that you find fun things to do within a few hours drive from the home.  I have an additional definition.

  • Staying away from people who are frustrating you, and not allowing their wants, needs, and desires to override your own.

staycation“I will be on Staycation all summer.” I told her. “You guys are on your own!”  So now, both the above mentioned women are frustrated by me. Both sarcastically remarking that they hope I enjoy my Staycation!

“I will,” I proudly proclaimed.  Thinking to myself, “I’m staying away from your wants, your drama, and your constant woe is me whining about your self-imposed crap!”

I now encourage others to enter into their Season of Me and take a Perpetual Staycation.  We all have ordained missions to accomplish and you cannot accomplish it by allowing frustrations to get the best of you.  Turn the tables on the people frustrating you by cutting them off!  Become unavailable.  They may even have the nerve to ask you what you are doing that is so important (as one of mine did.)  Guess what, you don’t have to answer them!  You are not accountable to them for your time.  You are only accountable to your mission.

So let me give you some concrete steps on how to do it.

  1. Decide-decide to do it.
  2. Make a list of the people in your life-put two columns by their name.  In one column write the word assets, in the second write the word liabilities.  In the asset column, write down all the ways they enhance your life and support you in the accomplishment of your goals.  In the liabilities column write down all the ways they hinder you and keep you from your goals.  If the liability side is greater-cut them off.  Commit to never allowing their desires, wants, and needs to outweigh your own.
  3. Become unavailable-Stop answering the phone when they call.  Ignore their voicemail messages.  Only call them back when you are strong enough to resist their negative pull against you.
  4. Be okay with saying no!- Yes, they are going to get mad at you.  But you have to decide that it’s okay if they do.  Guess what, their anger only serves to prove your point.
  5. Move on to a new set of people!-Actively seek out friendships with people who are assets.  People like you, who don’t mind giving to people who want to give something back.

I found my new set of people through a colleague who was forming a circle of women, who desired to love unconditionally, accept without the adversity, give with generosity, and provide care compassionately. We spent a year together attending monthly workshops, holding each other accountable for reaching personal goals, supporting each other through tough times, and hanging out together.  When the year was over, we each had made a solid group of friends, whose only objective was to help one another achieve their personal and professional goals.

My fervent prayer is that you will accomplish every dream and desire that the Master has etched on your heart.  Seek wisdom and journey towards your dream with positive people who will affirm you, support you, and lift you up. It all starts with two simple sentences—“This is the Season of Me.”  And, “Sorry, I’m on Staycation.”

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts-Woodstock

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A Little Bird with a lot of Courage

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts

Lesson #6-Woodstock

WOODSTOCK- Aside from Snoopy, if there is one character who knows how to keep it cool it’s Woodstock.  His very name is synonymous with the laid back, pot smoking, hippie culture of the 1960’s. Woodstock can barely fly, but he can fix planes, write, type, caddy, whistle, skate, play ice hockey, hike, camp, drive a zamboni, and play football! He does not allow his lack of flying skills to define who he is.  He’s a tiny bird with great big courage and he is not afraid to do things big people do. I mean this bird has some serious heart!

What’s really cool about Woodstock though is that as a leader, he also knows how to choose a good leader to follow, make them his friend, and keep him close. In following Snoopy on adventures both real and fictional, Woodstock demonstrates that he trusts Snoopy’s leadership. Woodstock is a good follower.

There is something of a stigma to follower-ship skills.  Pity because the practical    reality is one does not reach progressively more responsible leadership positions without demonstrating an ability to follow and function effectively in a group. (McCallum 2013)

Yet, he doesn’t just follow anybody. He follows Snoopy-the funny looking dog with the great big heart to match the great big courage of Woodstock.  It is the ultimate bromance-they fight, they hug, they laugh, they show compassion, they fight with each other and for each other.  In short-they look out for one another and root for one another’s success. That’s important because not only will a good friend have your back, but they will also help you not to take life too seriously. So if you are following a leader who doesn’t do these things, then take a lesson from Woodstock and find yourself a Snoopy.

Lesson Number 6-Leaders Know How to Identify a Leader Worth Following

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fanpop.com

Resources

McCallum, John S. “FOLLOWERSHIP: THE OTHER SIDE OF LEADERSHIP.” Ivy Business        Journal, September 2013. Accessed January 14, 2017. doi:para 9.

Ellen Rescinds Kim Burrell’s Invitation to Appear on Show and The Culture of Fake Inclusion

By Lena Fields-Arnold

The Yahoo Headline read “Kim Burrell Will Not Appear on Show.”

Apparently she was booted off a scheduled appearance on Ellen for preaching an “anti-gay” sermon the weekend prior at her church.

According to yahoo news “the singer faced a backlash after a YouTube video posted on Dec. 30 showed Burrell delivering a sermon at the Love & Liberty Fellowship Church in Houston, where she is a senior pastor. In the clip, Burrell condemns homosexuality as “perverted” and an “embarrassment.”

After a “flood of tweets and a Change.org petition that garnered more than 5000 supporters,” denouncing Burrell’s comments Ellen Rescinded her invitation.  In effect practicing the same type of social exclusion she claims to be against.

Dr.  Rebecca Fraser-Thill, in her article “Understanding and Coping with Social Exclusion” explains that “when it is intentional, social exclusion is considered to be a form of relational aggression or social aggression.” It can take the form of intentionally ignoring or overlooking someone, overt shunning such as not talking to someone, or as Thrill states “may be more subtle, such as by spreading rumors about a person so that he/she gradually becomes rejected.”  In Ellen’s case it took the form of public shame and a rescinded invitation.

It’s her show and technically she has that right, but I wonder if by doing so she hasn’t sent the wrong message about what tolerance and inclusion is really all about; especially when you consider the fact that a critical component of inclusion is an effort to ensure equal opportunities for all. It is an intentional process of creating conditions designed to enable all members of society have full access to participate in the civic, social, economic, and political activities, of life.

I love the 1970’s show All in the Family.  As a child I did not understand why my black parents would watch and laugh at what I thought was a racist show.  I was too young then to understand the deep complexity of the writing.  Archie Bunker believed in the WASP way.  He believed in separation of the races and all that crap about the white race being the right race.  Archie Bunker had strong opinions about what he thought was right and he was often challenged on those opinions by his liberal son-in-law.  They argued and fought like cats and dogs, but this could only happen because Archie tolerated Mike’s opinions.   Despite their differences, he allowed Mike to live with him and Edith, even though in doing so it meant Archie would have to be uncomfortable-A LOT!

Yet, it was the pull and push between them that made the show so interesting.  As the show progressed we witnessed both Mike and Archie grow, and change, and become MORE accepting of each others opinions and beliefs. Did they come to agreement on everything-absolutely not?! But they did learn to respect each other’s boundaries and more importantly-they began to love one another.

Isn’t this what we want the end result of true tolerance to be about? Can that even happen in today’s era of political correctness?

Carol M. Swain in her article for the American Dissident wonders the same thing.

Any statement that makes a member of a “favored” group feel uneasy is quickly branded as hate speech or bigotry without any real effort to consider the validity of the statement. When issues are addressed, it is usually in a forum of like-minded individuals, where speakers preach to the fawning choir. This is unfortunate. Little effort is expended on bringing real balance to conversations about significant issues. (Swain 2015 p 1)

“Avoidance is not deliverance.” -Horace Arnold

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So what I am saying is this.  Yes Ellen had the right to cancel Burrell’s appearance, but my question is why waste an opportunity to cross a divide and show the world what true tolerance and inclusiveness looks like? I fear that when a person preaches tolerance and inclusion, then fails to act upon that belief simply because of pressure from another group of people-then they have become no better than that which they claim to rail against.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think if the invitation had been a personal invitation to Ellen’s place of residence it would have been totally appropriate to rescind the invitation if she felt that strongly.  I’ll be honest; I would not knowingly invite a bonified hooded Klansman into my home. But her show is not a private residence.  It is transmitted over public airwaves, paid for through sponsors, and viewed by a wide segment of the population-a population that deserves to have a show that reflects the various segments of society who watch the program. Yes, there are Christians who think homosexuality is wrong, who watch Ellen’s show.  Why?  Because they like the show and they think Ellen is a gifted comedian.  Keeping the invitation open, despite personal feelings would have been a grander gesture and promoted the true culture of tolerance and inclusion we should always strive for.

UPDATE!

sowing-my-tearsMarion Witcher, author of Sowing my Tears Reaping His Joy and founder of New Hope for Special Needs has agreed to guest blog a counterpoint to the above post.  As a journalist I strive t0 be fair and balanced in my writing so when a follower post thoughtful and engaging commentary that presents another view I will invite them to guest blog in more elaborate detail.  In my conversation with Marion, she agreed with the general ideas presented by the post, however she felt in this particular situation Ellen made the right call.  I look forward to reading Marion’s full post and I also invite anyone else who has another way of looking at this incident to contact me as well.

Resources

Fraser-Thill, Rebecca. “Understanding and Coping with Social Exclusion .” Verywell. August      31, 2016. Accessed January 05, 2017. https://www.verywell.com/what-is-social         exclusion-3288013.

Swain, Carol M. “Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion doesn’t include you!” The American  Dissident, Spring-Summer 2015, 11+. General OneFile (accessed January 5, 2017).       http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do            p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA432807567&sid=summon

&asid=b1f36baa221c912b95d54928027186ae.

 

 

 

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.

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“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.”

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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.

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