Jesus was considered “fake news” too…

Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it fake.

I haven’t yet figured out a way to talk to people who refuse facts without getting angry.  Mind you, I don’t get angry right away, but I am tired of providing people with facts that I can support with actual evidence only to still be argued against and eventually disrespected. I am not just talking about racial matters or in cases involving discussion of our sloppy political arena here in America, but in matters concerning God, religion, and Christianity as well.

Recent examples:

On a discussion board about former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley who was recently acquitted of murdering a Black man although it appeared as though he had planted a gun on the deceased, several posters decided to use that forum to suggest that cops have every reason to be afraid in Black cities because of Black on Black crime and to classify Black Lives Matter as a racist, terrorist organization. When I merely mentioned that more White people kill cops than Black and that Black Lives Matter has advocated heavily for White victims of police brutality as well as Black, those comments were not well-received.

On another board that discussed dumping more money into our military, I remarked that that much money could do worlds of good for healthcare, education and infrastructure, and that it is interesting that America can find all the money in the world for war but can’t figure out that the best way to decrease violence here is by decreasing poverty with…you guessed it… investments in the healthcare, education and infrastructure that will provide all Americans with a better standard of living. Those comments were not well-received and I was accused of disrespecting the military. “Why wouldn’t you want our soldiers to get more help?” Um, because they probably won’t. That money is going right into somebody’s pockets. War is profitable. And pointless. I was also accused of being a socialist and told that if I hated America so much, I should leave. I’ve been told that on multiple occasions. And that insinuation right there, ladies and gentlemen, is almost guaranteed to infuriate me to almost cussing.

And now, for the most recent meme I attempted to combat:

god gender

Jesus take the daggone wheel.

This was posted by a person who has full-fledged jumped into the Atheism-under-the-guise-of-Black-empowerment bandwagon. By that, I am referring to the growing group of Black people who think a Black person can’t be woke and still accept the White man’s religion. Now, it doesn’t bother me when a person is an atheist. That is their right. But before people try to combat Christianity it would help if they did their research instead of blindly accepting the unverified information they see in random Facebook memes.

Basic remedial Bible 101–John 4:24 tells us that God is SPIRIT. Although as the author of all created things God can come in any form he wishes, his true form is…not a form. You know what I appreciate about Islam? They prohibit visual depictions of Muhammad. One of the most unfortunate developments in Christianity, in my humble opinion, was when people took it upon themselves, based on their own biases and not Bible fact, to portray God, Jesus, angels, etc. Because of this, it has been widely accepted that God the father is an older White man with a balding head and a beard (sometimes he is shown with long White hair); Jesus has either brown or blond hair and blue eyes; and angels are women. What good did this do? All it did was cause division and confusion. I doubt that God is pleased.

But I digress.

The poster asked, “If there was a God, shouldn’t he be beyond the confines of gender?” Since a question was posed, I assumed that meant the poster knew he might get answers…How foolish of me. When I informed the poster that God is genderless and that male pronouns are typically ascribed to God–I mean how else are we to refer to God? It? He/she? Who really wants to read that?–you’d have thought I attacked his mom. He responded with immediate vitriol. According to him, it’s a shame that someone as intelligent as me has been so badly brainwashed, and that I’m the one who needs to do some research.

Unbeknownst to him and all of the other people in the aforementioned situations, I do tons of research. I read voraciously. I don’t read only the things that I agree with. I read things that I find absurd, if nothing else to understand the people that subscribe to those beliefs and ways of life. I studied psychology and sociology as an undergrad. People are flipping fascinating to me. My soft heart towards vulnerable populations–society’s underdogs–is why I have a hard time ignoring the posts that deride minorities and provide false information about vulnerable populations. And this heart that loves God and truly is saddened by the realization that these people who are railing against him simply because they believe the religion was foisted on us by our White slavemasters might find themselves in Hell makes it difficult not to gently correct them.

What am I concluding in all of this? Unfortunately some people cannot be helped. Shrugs. Or, maybe it is not me that can help them. Maybe I’ve planted a seed that someone else can cultivate.

Yet I still wonder why people can’t accept that people have other views and outlooks on life. Does that mean that they don’t respect or appreciate those of other people? It doesn’t have to. Why when I describe my experience as a Black American am I told to get over it or leave? Why despite the evidence that poor people aren’t bad does this stereotype still pervade? Because I believe in Jesus, does that suddenly make me less Black??

I hate the day that “Fake News” became the battlecry used by people to mask their blindness. If the term is used to call out errors in reporting, fine. But when people are given statistics, links to resources and websites, personal testimony, etc… “Fake news!” Because you don’t believe it??? Well, there were a ton of people who thought Jesus was fake news when He came too. Wonder what they’d say now…

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Let’s talk ladies…

When I get to heaven, one of the first things I’d like to do is find Eve and give her an open-handed slap in da mouf. Not “the mouth”. Da MOUF.

I can’t think of a bigger pain in the hindparts than this whole menstrual cycle garbage. Mine has been wonky to the nth degree over the past several years. There has been absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. I went without it for seven months and was told that I was probably going to go through early menopause. Next thing I know, I am pregnant.

Now, the stupid thing shows up whenever it gets good and flipping ready and it is making me crazy. Of course my hormones are out of wack also, so nothing is working as it should. My skin is an absolute mess. I am having a hard time keeping my temper, I am bloated and cannot lose weight, and I am not a happy camper. Then add in the symptoms of this mystery illness and you have a Stephanie who is close to detonation.

I wonder how much of this can be attributed to the illness, which I believe is an autoimmune disease, and how much is just nature? 

Whatever it is I am crabby and want to be left alone. Out of ALL the ways God could have punished Eve we get THIS. I just want to UNDERSTAND my flipping body again!!!! I’m so angry I could scream now. 

Or eat a pound of chocolate and get mad because I’m fat.

Moses had to be EXHAUSTED…

Today was a bit trying.

Despite my best efforts to get to bed at about 11:30 and wake up around 6:15 so I can have breakfast ready by the time my husband gets home and my kids wake up, which I believe would allow me sufficient sleep to operate during the day, it hasn’t worked as planned most nights. Sometimes I wonder if Jayla is punking me. She still won’t sleep through the night. I know some of it is related to teething, but I think other than that, she just screams randomly to keep me on my toes.

Additionally, I can’t seem to wind down. Even on the rare night when I climbed into bed at 10:30, I could not, despite being dog tired, go to sleep. I tried to follow the advice I received from the sleep specialist, including turning everything off for awhile before bed, but that actually did more harm than good, because even when I turned off all electronics, my stupid busy nag of a brain just REFUSED to chill out. It was ridiculous! I promise you, I was having the dumbest most miscellaneous thoughts EVER. I’m sitting there thinking about lunch ideas for my kids, story ideas, recipes, outfits that would look cute on me if I wasn’t so fat, scenes from The Golden Girls… I had to turn on the television just so my brain would shut up!

For some reason, today the exhaustion went into over drive, and I was sluggish and groggy. Some of it may be that I am trying to taper down my sugar intake. Either way it goes, I felt flipping awful and was not in the mood to go to church. Our Moody classes began today.

When I got there, my mood immediately perked up. We are working through Genesis, which gives me a good opportunity to start from the beginning and continue working my way through again. I had gotten as far as Judges and fell off. Now I can review some of the concepts from the book. We just did a brief overview today and have to read the first few chapters for next week, but during our discussion, I realized something…My exhaustion has nothing on how Moses must have felt.

In addition to dealing with one of the most irritating, ungrateful and unfocused group of people in the Bible, Moses is also the author of the first five books of the Bible. When the heck did he have time to write all that? There are 187 chapters and almost 6,000 verses. And for those of you who have read Leviticus (which is, in my humble opinion, the most boring Old Testament book possible) with all of its detail regarding offerings, sacrifices and law, could you imagine trying to transcribe all that stuff? I remember sitting in college classes and getting frustrated when professors spoke faster than I could write, and having to develop my own shorthand for better note-taking. (And then I’d forget what the shorthand was supposed to really say. Fun times). I guess I’m just curious as to how the process of God speaking to Moses about things in Genesis in particular, things that happened before Moses was born, went down. And I found myself wondering how God revealed the Pentateuch to Moses. I wondered if Moses was like me–whenever he tried to lay his head down, God pounced on him and deluged him with visions or dreams, or both.

Either way it goes, at least I have opportunities to rest. Could I use more? Yep. Actually, strike that. I don’t want more rest, I want more energy. Regardless, it to me is an amazing feat that Moses was able to manage to find time to write the foundational books of the Bible while dealing with a massive group of complaining people. This was before espressos too? Oh, NOOOOOO.

But as we know, nothing is impossible for God, and if He has something for you to do, He’ll empower you to do it.

Moses-wandering-in-the-desert-2

A Day of Commemoration…and Reflection

plaque of those lost on sept 11

 

Like most Americans who were of age at the time, I remember exactly what I was doing when news of what is now referred to as the 9/11 attacks occurred.

I was a student at Grand Valley State University. I was getting ready to go to class, and as I usually did, had the television on (no matter what I’m doing, I usually require some type of background noise to keep me focused). At first I thought nothing when whatever program I was watching was interrupted for a breaking news report, but then my roommate yelled for me to look. She rarely raised her voice, so I knew it had to be something significant.

We watched, compelled, horrified, glued to our seats, eyes wide, mouths agape, as report after report on channel after channel came in about what had just happened. It became obvious that this was no ordinary plane crash, specifically because there hadn’t been just one… It was a series of coordinated, evil attacks.

A friend of mine who was a Marine came over to watch the continuous footage with us. After awhile he couldn’t look any more. Concerned that this would lead to him being deployed to seek revenge on whatever nation was possible for the tragedy, he headed back home to soothe himself. I don’t recall if GVSU closed down the campus for the day, but I do know that I didn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t stop watching the news. At one point, I remembered that I had a cousin living there and placed a panicked call to my parents, who reassured me that he had already called his parents and assured them he was fine. He had had a job interview close by the Towers that day that had been cancelled that very morning.

I had, and still have, so many questions about that day. My first wonder was how one could hate people that they never met enough to do something so awful. I know that there have been many people who have committed atrocities allegedly in the name of Islam, yet I cannot bring myself to hate ALL Muslims. (Well, I don’t hate anybody, so perhaps that is not the best word. I cannot bring myself to despise all Muslims). I know that there plenty of Muslims who would never think to do such a thing. As someone who understands that everyone is not going to share my beliefs, and someone who thinks diversity is actually a gift from God, I cannot fathom how people can develop such hatred toward an entire group of people. To this day, I wonder what their exact motives were. Of course I know the terrorists say that it was in retaliation for America’s policies and involvement concerning the affairs of the Middle East. But Jesus Christ, did it have to come to THAT?

In the days, months and years that have passed, I’ve also wondered what those last moments were like for the people aboard those planes. Sometimes I imagine their fear and hopelessness and I get furious. They didn’t deserve that. People going on about their daily business who just happened to board a plane that some psychos turned into a missile. I’m getting upset right now.

I remember people criticizing then President George “Dubya” Bush for his immediate reaction upon finding out the news. I might get crucified for this, but he was in the midst of a group of second-graders. Yes, he could have excused himself and left immediately, which would have been understandable. But… he kept himself composed in front of those children, who were diligently reciting words. Or a story. One or the other. And believe me, I wasn’t a fan of Dubya’s.

Following the attack, the way Americans came together was absolutely unbelievable. Churches were full, but you know what else happened? We remembered how to appreciate each other. We knew that our country had changed but we wanted to rise above it. We wanted to implement better protocols for airport safety, but we didn’t want to live in fear. We rejected fear…

…for awhile. Then came the fear-mongerers and the Muslim backlash. I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life and Dearborn, MI has a large population of Arab-Americans, with a significant portion of them identifying as Muslim. They have low crime rates and high educational achievement. (Not to mention some pretty good food). The anger was understandable, but not when it was applied to the entire group of people. Here we are, 16 years later, with the same hatred and fear. There were instances in the Bible where kings, who felt their power was threatened, attempted to eliminate an entire generation of baby boys. Remember those? You know what compelled them to do that? Yes, a love of power was one, but the primary indicator of oppression and racism is FEAR. Fear is dangerous. It is nasty. It convinces people to do awful things to others. As is suggested in II Tim. 1:7, it clouds what is otherwise a sound mind capable of sound judgment. People fear what they don’t know, and because they refuse to exit their comfortable bubbles and actually confront the unknown, they will remain fearful and, unfortunately, prejudiced. And it is to THEIR detriment, because as we Christians know, each and every one us will meet Jesus when this life is over, whether we believed in Him while we were on earth or not, and how will people respond when Jesus asks them about their racism? For those who consistently pursue war–how does that help?

How far have we come, really?

I’m so hurt for the innocent people that died that day. Almost 3,000 people, with an additional 6,000 injured. Survivors have died of injuries and conditions related to that day. It was indeed a dark day for America. We rose from it and shone briefly, then went dark again, shrouded with a cloud of racism.

It’s a day I will never forget. Ever.

Continue to rest in paradise Dad. Twenty-five months without you today. And it hasn’t stopped hurting yet, although I am glad you’re suffering has met its end.

_For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind._

Conquering the back to school grind!!


I knew this day would come. I was ready and not ready.

My little girl is now a proud kindergartner.

I have been fighting the onset of separation anxiety all summer. Just as I struggled with the idea of turning my son over to the hands of strangers when he first started school, the same sentiments arose regarding my daughter. However, it was a tad different with Layla. Jayden went to half-day preschool and then full-day kindergarten, so I was able to ease into the letting go thing. Layla went straight from home to full-day kindergarten. No transition.

I got a smidge annoyed by everyone poking fun at me, thinking I was going to be a sobbing mess at school when we dropped her off, so I held it together to spite them. There were also several things that brought me comfort: First, Jayden has been at the school since it opened, so I know personally that the staff is very attentive; second, Layla’s teacher is greatly suited for her job; third, my son is right down the hall if his little sister needs him. My niece also goes there as well. Layla has tons of support. Admittedly, once I got into the house and realized she wasn’t there I got a bit wistful, and when the Bubble Guppies theme song came on, I cried. If Layla had been at home she would have been watching that show. 😞

When we picked them up from school she was all a-flutter. She was so excited, and reported that she had had a great day and loved school. That gave me further confirmation that I need not worry about my little Bear. I also know that as much as I have been working with her, helping her with sight words, reading, counting, etc., she will do better with an educated, experienced teacher and a more structured environment. I often had to juggle helping her with her lessons while peeling Jayla off me. I rarely was able to give her my full undivided attention.

As for my boy, he is a pro now 😊. A proud sixth-grader, he has a locker that he couldn’t wait to get in to and will be in the band again. He too benefits from structure and routine. I’m going to work on establishing better routines for both of them at home when the homework starts coming in (shudder).

Now, with just the baby, some more free time has opened up. When she is asleep, I plan to use the time to exercise and write. I do miss my older kids, but I’m excited to see what kind of adults they will grow into. Yes, the whole letting go thing is hard, but there is an addendum there: Let go=let God. I can’t hover over my children for the rest if their lives, but I can cover them in prayer before they leave my sight each day. Because even though I love them, God loves them more. And although I will always do my best to protect them, it is our omnipotent, omniscient God who is better-equipped for the job.

Bring on the Fall!

fall in michigan

I truly love autumn in Michigan.

Changing leaves, apples, sweaters, boots, that little bit of crispness in the early morning air, football, spicy chili and cornbread, my pumpkin spice cheesecake… I could go on. A major additional perk of fall: Not having to sweat to death, but also not having to bundle up in pesky winter coats and hats. I flipping hate winter.

As the month begins for those of us in states that were not affected by Hurricane Harvey, let us not continue on with our lives without remembering the stagnation that has occurred in theirs as a result of this disaster. There are so many causes to which we can donate. These are our fellow Americans and they are going to need help for months to come. Those of us who were cushioned from the devastation should be thanking God for that and praying for those affected.

September is also National Childhood Obesity month, as well as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. The rate of obesity among children is steadily climbing in America, and we know that childhood obesity leads to health conditions that historically were relegated to adults: Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure.  Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults, and let us not fail to consider the ramifications to the self-esteem of the obese child. In my house, I plan to work with my kids about getting more water in their diet and by encouraging my son in particular to eat fiber-rich foods that will fill him up and make him feel full longer, because he eats like a garbage disposal. I’ve also had them do my virtual walks with me. My daughter likes them. My son, not so much.

The cause of suicide is one that is near to my heart because of my own ideation after being raped. Up until that point, I thought I was one of the toughest people to walk this earth. I never would have thought I would get to the point where I was questioning whether or not I even wanted to live, let alone to the even more shocking point where I was close to doing it. Suicide has no bounds. It affects people of both sexes (although males complete suicide at higher rates than females, probably because men use more violent methods of suicide), all races and age groups (except very young kids, thank GOD). Alarmingly, the rates are increasing among people 10-24, and I can make assumptions as to why–lots and lots and lots of academic, social, economic, PRESSURE. Young people are made to believe they are never good enough and it takes its toll on their still-developing psyches.

But I digress. My major point is that getting to the point where you are suicidal has nothing to do with your degree of “toughness”. It has more to do with your degree of hopelessness. For me, I didn’t see any way out of my pain. No matter what I could do, nothing would change the fact that I had been violated. Nothing could change the shame I felt for having fallen prey to someone. I am now at a point in my life where I can say that I am confident that nothing I did that night or the days leading up to it made what he did to me okay, but when it first happened, all I could think of–partially thanks to the highly insensitive law enforcement officials and clunky university processes–was what I had done to bring on being raped.  I felt stupid, weak, dirty, slutty, angry, guilty… every negative feeling you can think of, I had it. Guilt because I felt that I had gone off to Grand Valley, gotten myself raped, and let my parents down. Their hard earned tuition dollars were going down the drain. Not only that, my partying ways had been exposed. Basically, I internalized every reason the detective and prosecutor gave me for having been victimized. My clothes that night–a long-sleeved black shirt and black pants–revealed nothing, but you’d have thought they did. I  purposely gained weight so guys would not see my shape.  At NO point in time was the blame ever put on anything Sidney did.

Hopelessness is a disease. It pollutes the brain; alters its chemistry. It is truly a working of the devil.

ALL PRAISES BE TO GOD that as I sat in my little studio apartment in the dark holding that knife, which had never shone as brightly as it was then, I pictured my recently-deceased grandmother, and then I remembered that I had a special power that I hadn’t utilized during the entire ordeal–the power of prayer. I had just finished drinking an entire fifth of Hennessey, but somehow, something told me… PRAY. PRAY THROUGH IT. And I did. I don’t know how, but that knife ended up clear across the room.

Also working in my favor was the immense, overwhelming crushing support I received from my family. BOY, did they put in WORK! I had cousins coming to visit me out the woodwork, bringing me flowers and visiting with me, aunts and uncles sending letters to the prosecutor and the university on my behalf, and friends checking up on me and letting me know what was going on up at GVSU when I returned home. My parents never said a mumbling word about me having to move back in with them. And my sister was a constant presence. She never asked any intrusive questions. That was what I needed. Support, love, and listening ears. That’s what I got. As we navigate the world, however, we have to be cognizant that everyone is NOT a Christian, and for them, being told to pray would be dismissive. That’s not acceptable. Our love, support and encouragement for other people is NOT supposed to be conditional.

As for me, healing from such a gaping wound is ongoing. I’ll admit it. Every now and then I think about it and grow FURIOUS. I have student loans from GVSU and I don’t think I should have to pay them. My entire life plan was stagnated by that, and I was set back when I had to transfer to EMU as a senior, and I STILL don’t appreciate that. I had a pretty decent life up there, and it took one person to ruin it, and an entire blind university and jerk prosecutor to add heaping mounds to the ruination.

But, God has a way of turning things around…

One of my worst days became one of my best days…

February 16, 2003–THAT day.

February 16, 2012, 4:28 a.m.: My Layla Bear was born!

Anyhoo, as we have moved into this month, please educate yourself on the warning signs and stressors. I have found several resources that I would like to share with you, as opposed to citing entire websites:

In case of an emergency, dial 911!

National Alliance on Mental Illness

http://www.nami.org

800-950-NAMI

For help within an immediate crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

Or, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-TALK.

It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to need people. There is always someone who has been through what you’re going through. You don’t have to go at it alone. And in most cases, you can find your purpose in your pain.

depressed black woman