Dealing with Race in America

Keith is truly a man of God and a man of guts and integrity. He pointed out correctly that the problem is one of perceptions and degrees. White people…and while I want to say “MOST white people” I will just say “many white people” are pushing in the correct direction…but there is so much farther to push….so much so that from the black perspective, we’ve hardly moved at all. The black perspective is accurate.

My only defense for white people is that for MANY white people, they’ve made a 180 degree turn from that of their parents and grandparents and, from personal experience, that was not easy. Many many times I heard from my father, “Why can’t you be like the rest of us?”. I am truly sorry that we have not made more progress. I do not know what more can be done in one lifetime than to make a complete about face, push against the tide, and do what I can to convince those around me to consider turning around, too. I ask for forgiveness (from Keith, from my other black friends, and from God) for not having done more or enough to matter.

Please refer to previous posts Generalizations are Generally Wrong and In the Name of the Father.

21st Century Sojourner


I am going to delve into another sensitive area in this blog post. I grew up hearing from black people that we don’t have the ability to discriminate. This may come as a shock to every other race on the planet. In order to explain this unique perspective on the issue, allow me to define the word discriminate.

First, the dictionary defines discrimination as: “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” That definition pretty much says it all. It would appear to be all inclusive. However, living life as an African American I ran across an interesting time and space anomaly. I was told that African Americans cannot discriminate, we really can’t be racists. Yes, you read that right. If you want to understand the heart of so many misunderstandings, you need to understand this concept.

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Learning to pick my battles…

…even if only after the fact.

I’m doing…okay.  I’ve been trying too hard for a while now…encouraging loved ones to leave a toxic boss (efforts wasted); helping my neighbors survive his 2.5 month hospital/rehab stay after what was supposed to be outpatient surgery and encouraging them to make better choices (efforts wasted); writing about fighting evil and being reconciled to God (efforts draw evil to me); water pipes splitting and soaking carpeted floor, sections of floor falling in, door falling off hinges; battling mosquitoes, heat, drought,  …are we having fun, yet?

It’s like single-parenting….you just don’t die from this….well. not yet, anyway

I am emotionally depleted and physically worn out from the heat.  My plants are heat stressed and turning yellow.  My dog has had intestinal issues for days (throughout the house) and is not eating (she just watches as the cat eats her food 8 inches away) and my neighbor insists on throwing chicken bones and pizza scraps in the yard for her to find.  Oh, and my cat apparently has cat-betes and is losing his eyesight.

But, I persevere.   Yesterday, I spent the Fourth watching the flag gently wave in the rippling heat and the Morning Glories slowly unfurl and re-furl…and not much else.

Besides, I am happier and more stable than I was in North Carolina.  I’m physically stronger and on less medication.  And I pick my battles…even if only after the fact.  (“Well, that was a pointless, losing battle.”)

Today’s Lament

I was in a bad place last night.  I had gotten whipped up emotionally in what I was wanting to pass on in my blogs, was frustrated because I struggled to convey clearly what I had received, and then had several interactions with people during the day that went sour.  Driving home last night with the top down on my car, I had to admit to Jesus that He is the only One for whom I don’t have to adjust my personality…the only One who appreciates me just the way I am and Who welcomes what I have to give.  I am too direct, intense, or ‘real’ for everyone else.  My brother is able to accept me but advises me to ‘turn it down’ for everyone else.  I have nearly ruined 2 of his business relationships recently because of my ‘corporate’ voice; I need to learn how to lighten up, joke, and say, “yeeeuuup.” like the locals..

The ‘being whipped up’ and then ‘feeling the down side of that’ dances way too close to bipolar mood swinging.  (Please God, don’t let me take that demon back.  I am doing so well without it.)

In all honesty, if it weren’t for my relationship with Jesus, I would be totally alone.  Please take this the right way but I am often having to adjust my sensibilities for people .  No one wants to hear what I know about anything:  God, talking to Jesus, science, quantum physics, the government, hate, racism, global warming, …even thunderstorm downbursts.  No one around me, family included, knows or even understands what I did when I worked for the government; none of my family and very few of my friends read my writing; people that I have offered paintings to don’t even care to see them and don’t even bother to respond and say “no, thank you,” much less “yes, thank you.”

Why did God give me intelligence, quick thinking, keen insight, and artistic talent if no one wants it?  Is it truly just for Him?  and me?  My paintings are stacked in storage and staged down my hall waiting to be bunched up on my walls.  My writings dry up on my hard drive or are sent out into the internet ether…received by 5 maybe 6 viewers; liked by 2 or 3.  I implore tech support ‘experts’ to help me with Trojans and malware only to discover they know a fraction of what I do about my computer and their software.  Half the time they hang up on me.  Why?

I ‘get’ why I have received the disappointments, neglect, and abuse in my life; I understand the wisdom of God developing ‘wounded healers.’  But what is the purpose of my having knowledge, wisdom, and talents that nobody wants?  God doesn’t need it; He invented it.  I don’t understand.  Somebody help me…what good can I glean from being totally useless to friends and family, irrelevant in conversation, and more than is necessary or wanted by the world?  I am sincere in my query.

And, yes, I realize this is  a demon which I must check at the door.

(BTW, I pulled this photo from a post I wrote over a year ago on my blog, Turning 60.  Most of that blog deals with identifying and getting rid of my life’s demons.  The blog starts with A Little Late Getting Started , goes through Forgiving my Childhood , A Reversal of Fortune, My Addictions, Starting Over , and I Have Exceeded My Welcome (which sounds remarkably like what I have just written.  I guess I have not travelled very far after all.) This picture comes from the one titled, Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit.)

Christ’s Embassy – some of the Best Practices

” We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

I am not implying that these are the best practices of these denominations or that these are the only good practices.  What I am implying is that these are practices that should be adopted by all of the other denominations…and any BiaFoC Collectives established from here, forward:

  • Spend some time on your knees.  (From the Episcopalians).  That is a good posture to get used to and familiar with.  It is difficult to cop an attitude while on your knees, except with God and He is the Only one Who will let you say everything you want to say without interrupting.
  • Silent prayer.  (The Presbyterians and, similarly, the Quakers). The more time you spend in silence, the better.  Try to spend half the time silently talking and the other half silently listening.  Consider a quiet bell to mark the dividing line…and to wake up the older men.
  • Confession.  (The Catholics).  I would suggest this twist on the conventional approach:  have slips of paper and pencils at the door.  BiaFoCs can write down their demons (illnesses, resentments, hates, fears, prides, addictions, vanities, generational abuses,…) as well as their gratitudes and intercessions.  The pieces of paper go in a bucket.  The bucket of confessions is prayed over then burned; the issues go up in smoke.  (More of an Episcopal thing.). You can call it “checking your demons at the door.”. Make it clear that you can not dig in the ashes to take your issues back home with you.
  • Stephen Ministry (multi-denominational, I think) where a seasoned with experience in adversity, spiritual warfare, personal demons, and faith walks beside a new BioFoC or a BiaFoC who is struggling.
  • Healing Ministry (the Order of St. Luke, which is multi-denominational.) with regular weekly ‘Soaking Prayer’ and “Generational Healing’ services.
  • Sponsors, ‘seasoned believers’ to walk along side of the new members to introduce them to the faith warriors in the Collective, the various services like the different ministries, and to help them find their best Collective Subset.  The sponsor should be confident enough to talk candidly about God, their relationship with God, and their faith.  I address how sponsors can help new believers in my article about the BiaFoCs Inverted U.  When someone who ‘gets it’ walks along beside someone who doesn’t yet, the connection to God is clarified and faith is strengthened…for both of them.
  • Prayer Ministers, Prayer Chains and Prayer Request boxes.  Many churches have these.  Many don’t.   In God Loves You. No Exceptions. I relate how street corner preachers were ‘augmented’ by an humble booth at a street fair which housed a table with a shoe box labelled “Prayer Requests”, scrap paper, and pencils.  Prayer Ministers were on hand for requests for immediate intervention and supplication.
  • Walk through Practicing the Presence of God during the service, and talk about it. (Nobody does this.)  Talk to God as if you really believe He really is there…and not with the “Apostle’s Creed” tone of voice.  Creeds are fine; Creeds are good. But demonstrate what Practicing the Presence looks like…what it sounds like.  Ask God a question and wait for an answer.  Someone may hear it.  If you, who believe, don’t act like you believe, how is anyone else going to believe?  Or believe that you believe.

If you are a pastor or church leader, look into adding these to your offerings at church.  If you are not a pastor or church leader, consider taking these ‘best practices’ to them.  Look into becoming trained as a Stephen Minister or joining the Order of St. Luke , if you feel led to.

If your faith could be stronger, try taking on more adversity; suggestion: help shoulder someone else’s.




Christ’s Embassy – The benefits of Adversity (a clarification)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

There are benefits to being desperately in need of God…desperate to the point of not questioning the truth of God…just desperate and dependent.  It is not a bad place to be.  People talk about issues that have affected families down through the generations:  I believe that black people have stronger faith and blind dependence on God because of how horribly they have been treated for many generations.  I don’t envy them their experiences…just their faith.  Not sure that what I have just written wouldn’t get me hit or shot, but I think it is true.

This sounds perverse, but be thankful to God for your adversities.  It has strengthened your faith.

Consider this: If you don’t have a very strong faith or dependence on God, consider helping shoulder someone else’s adversity.  Own it and turn to God for help.

Christ’s Embassy

” We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

God does make His appeal through us.  Jesus is not here.  We are.  We are His hands and feet…as well as His lips and fingers.

Much of what I have read recently came together yesterday the way rivers, streams, and runoff come together to produce torrents and flash floods.  I have been quite busy scribbling notes as the Holy Spirit fed me insights, connections, and brilliant ideas.

At some point I thought of writing this all in a book … a book of instruction for individuals and churches.  However, the penlight of the Spirit revealed that I was being drawn toward the trap of anticipating notoriety, fame, success, and reward.  It didn’t take much convincing to change my mind.  So, nope, I’m not going there.  I will lay it all out here as individual posts.

First of all, God is responsible for this work.. He directed it.

Jesus led me to the blogs, books, and writings which have been blended to support the concepts put forth here. He planted the idea for me to write this and even made me slow down in my reading at the parts that were key to the development of these ideas. The Holy Spirit gave me joy when the concept really started to take off and I depend on Him to pave the way for me to get the necessary permissions to borrow the essential truths from the various sources of research and insight. Jesus orchestrated the book; I am merely conducted the work and performing the writing. Furthermore, any spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors are His. (Just kidding)

As I wait to get permission from specific publishers, I will set up the environment of what I hope to address:

Have you ever turned to a church for help and were told “no,” or were merely ignored, or were referred to the state or country department of social services? …even if you were known to be Christian and a member of that denomination?

Have you ever wondered why mega-churches thrive and smaller churches are failing?

Have you ever wondered why the seriously struggling in our neighborhoods have a stronger faith in God than those who seem to be truly blessed by God?

Have you ever experienced yourself drifting from your faith when hardships lighten up?

Have you ever wondered why so many of the wealthy and successful blow it by falling prey to drugs, addictions, adultery, crime, and suicide?

Have you ever felt alone within a congregation…misunderstood, ignored, marginalized?

Has it ever taken you a week to do what you could do in 15 minutes…if all the time you had was 15 minutes?

Do you ever get drawn off track by enticements, doubts, pride, addictions to validation, fear, or memories of abuse?

Do you ever feel that you have something to give but no one to give it to?  There is no one who wants it?

I am going to present a new way to be a ‘Believer in and Follower of Christ…’ a BiaFoC.  Okay, that sounds awful but I may in fact use that acronym because the term Christian carries along with it a bunch of associative junk that I intend to avoid:  preconceptions of what a Christian is, does, and has done…the details of which I will leave for another blog and, hopefully, a different blogger.

As I mentioned above, I hope to present advice and guidance for individuals as well as ‘BiaFoC Collectives,’ heretofore referred to as churches…a term and concept that has its own associative junk.  In fact, mainline churches with their council-approved doctrines, prayer manuals, and pre-ordained services may not be flexible enough to consider the recommendations I will make.  Some of what I will propose, I borrow (if not steal) from existing denominations, with slight modifications or blending.  In truth, I am gleaning the best practices of many denominations and suggesting a hybrid.  I can do this because 1) Jesus is suggesting it and He is the Executive Director.  I don’t need anyone else’s approval; 2) I am not having to make these ideas fit within any existing paradigm.

I am a free agent.  I no longer ‘belong’ to a particular denomination.  I belong to Jesus.  I am not ordained or formally educated  in theology, apologetics, or doctrine; a seminary education limits one’s options and can weaken one’s faith…(which is another subject that I will not go into, here.)

I will address a variety of issues:

  • four stages of BiaFoC faith and the keys to staying in the optimum stage;
  • techniques for identifying, shedding, and ‘keeping shed’ one’s personal demons;
  • keeping protected from the evil one and Practicing the Presence of God
  • fundamentals of the BiaFoC Collective…
    • its strengths and key components (“divide and pair up”)
    • the critical mass of BiaFoCs
    • the critical mass of issues
    • key practices
  • doing enough but not too much
  • the right way to measure prosperity and success
  • balancing intake and outflow
  • “Reach out”…not outreach
  • being public

I am excited.  While I await permission to proceed, I will be composing drafts.

I am not a salesman; ask my brother if you don’t believe me.  In fact, over the years, I have tried many times to market the products of my God-given talents (painting, photography, graphic design, writing,…) all to no avail.  Furthermore, I doubt my writings here get very far; the typical post of mine sees less than 10 views.

If what I present appeals, use it.  It comes from Jesus.




America Is Not A Christian Nation

I am re-posting this article because the author(s) make an excellent point:

” We need to show our coworkers, neighbors, relatives, and friends Jesus. If you want the Country to follow God more closely; The solution starts with us carrying out the Great Commission. When we start carrying out the Great Commission more effectively, I believe that is when you will see the changes you desire in the nation. ”

I would suggest changing the title because it leads one to believe that whether or not America is Christian is a significant issue. Besides, how does a nation become a Christian?

There is a great deal of good information and wisdom, here, though. I recommend this be passed along.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

Floods and Feasts

I missed church yesterday and consequently missed my usual feed of writing prompts.  I missed church because I have been prescribed blood pressure medicine and the advice given by the manufacturer was warranted; I was too ill to drive or be away from home.  I would blame my blood pressure on my mother and would probably be justified to do so, but I will evict this demon as I have the others.

It was fortunate that I did stay home.  At about the time I would have arrived at the church, I became aware of a sound with which I was not familiar; there was a high-pitched hissing coming from behind the easy chair in my den, the ‘cave’ that my blessed dog, Stella, sleeps in.  Concerned and curious, I got up from my desk and stepped around the chair.  Before I got far, my bare feet were met with wet carpet.  Cutting to the chase: water pipe behind the wall split and much of my home was already sodden.  Almost 24 hours later, wallboard is tossed (or rather chucked, as it was heavy and sopped), pipe is patched (my brother knows people), floor under carpet is gone in places.  The carpet is finally dry and the easy chair is over the unsupported section.  The fan still blows into the opened home of the water heater, and all is on the mend.

Another gift of the flood:  I have been needing to address the (then) unpacked boxes of office and art supplies and the accumulated papers to be sorted and filed or tossed.  I accomplished much of that yesterday and God willing, will finish up today.

Wisdom:  One should periodically rearrange one’s books.  I have put aside a few books that I not only forgot I even had, but are exactly what I need to be reading right now.  Over the years, I have acquired many many  wonderful books.  In my days of manic over-spending (demon gone) I typically bought 4 books at one time:  one book was the one I went to the bookstore to buy; one was the book I really needed to read; and two were to go on my bookshelf to be necessary 10-15 years later.  I have enough desirable and quality reading material that I do not need to buy another book for probably the rest of my life…although, I will, and have, and did, the day before yesterday.

You know you are practicing the presence of Jesus, when you fail to put grounds in the coffee maker because you are talking with Him.  Pouring a cup of clear, hot water brought a smile to both of our faces.

The birds are finally becoming comfortable with my birdbath.  Soon they will be fighting over it.  For a long time, it only attracted bees, wasps, and the occasional high-climbing snail.  I wrote a review of it the other day and a responder remarked, “Oh, good.  A bee bath.”  I have yet to see a slug, here in the Upstate.  They were an unpleasant downside to the cool, damp mountains of Western North Carolina.  There may be slugs here but right now it is too dry and oppressively hot for them to survive in the open.  My morning glories are crunchy.  The moss that holds back the red clay on the bank in front of my home is parched and receding.  (Don’t tell anyone…I lightly sprinkle it with water (by hand) each morning and evening.  If the moss dies, and the red clay is exposed, I’ll never be able to climb out of my home when it rains….if it ever does, again.)

There are frogs, here, though…much to my delight.  Tubbs, my black cat, also delights in them.  I especially love the itty bitty ones, the tiny ones that remind me of the hand full of  tiny things I have collected over the years.  I asked my brother the other night if he remembered making frog houses as kids.  (He replied, “I didn’t…until now.”)  We would pack dirt around our bare feet and slip our feet out, leaving a little enticing cave just the right size for a frog…and frogs were never hard to find.  (okay, they may be toads.)

Another climatological (or rather biological…or would it be ecological… environmental? speciological?) difference between here and the mountains, is the cicadas and katydids (scientifically known as Tettigoniidae).  My seasonal clock has been thrown completely off.  In Asheville, I know it is June when the fireflies appear.  Same, here.  But the crickets, Katydids, and cicadas, don’t speak up in Asheville until late July and August.  They are here…here…now…and in abundance.

Have you ever listened to the YouTube recording of the woman concerned about the deer, crossing the road in high traffic areas?  You MUST.  Trust me, you must.  But I am also concerned about the turtles crossing the road.  I have not seen a sign posted, but there must be one, because I am often having to stop the car, put on my emergency flashers, and assist a turtle to the other side of the road.  I love to do it; it brings me joy.  The difficult part is the worrying afterward because no matter where I put her (it’s always a her) the terrain is treacherous.  Small embankments are deadly.  Sticks can be fatal.  I just know she will roll.  But I cannot stay with her.  Traffic is backing up and I have animals at home to tend to.  So, after a requisite quick prayer, I turn and go.

Speaking of tiny things (yes, I was…), I am reading my mother’s favorite book.  I have started it several times over the years.  I know I have, because I remember reading about the “little things,” but I must not have been, those former times, where I am now spiritually, because I am truly appreciating the natural, easy, matter-of-fact presentation of things spiritual by the author.  The book is The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge.   Ms. Goudge presents (as in a ‘gift,’ lovingly given) examples of Mary’s practicing the presence of God…without the overt and flashing, finger-pointing hand “Look here”.  Also delightful, is how the author slowly slips into your gaze subtle glimpses of ‘non-standard mentality,’ aka, mental illness and adaptive perception.   Several characters in the book ‘present,’ in the medical sense, mania, depression, psychoses, and their companions:  keen insight, ultra sensitivity, brilliant conceptualization, telepathy, and a closer than is common connection with God. The book was written when I was 9.  I recall having to check it out of the library every few months or so, especially when I was a teenager.  The library eventually gave my mother the book.

Well, enough of this.  I have much to accomplish today:  serious book reading, bird watching, squirrel feeding (yes, I gave in and put up a feeder just for them), flower dead-heading, moss dampening, picture hanging, presence practicing, high blood pressure demon dashing, and anything else He suggests.

God bless…


(Addendum:  as it is 95 degrees at noon, outside…I will shift to chores, indoors.  I have just released into the yard, two frogs/toads that were dwelling in a bag of compost on my screened-in back porch.  I appreciate the wisdom of God when he uproots us from a place of (relative) comfort to relocate us somewhere better suited to our spiritual growth, i.e., His purpose.


Hope for a Better Past

I don’t watch TV.  No, not at all.  Instead, I read…books, magazines, blog posts, … A favorite magazine is “Mindful.”  Some Christians may think that it sounds too Buddhist or New Age-y for them but I would point out that practicing the presence of God requires mindfulness.

In the issue of “Mindful” that I am reading today, I found the following bits of wisdom:

From the Point of View (Editor’s page), Barry Boyce writes about grief and letting go:  “Why is it so hard to let go of the smallest things?  We seem so attuned to gaining and getting.  We are more down with addition and multiplication than subtraction, and division is the worst of all.”  I am reminded of my post “You can not turn a negative into a positive by adding more negative.”

Barry goes on to quote Frank Ostaseski, “Regrets are common, thoughts of incompletion and unfinished business, struggles unresolved.  These are illusory, clingy thoughts, but you can see them, and let them go.  And do that each time they come back to visit.”  I have said much recently about letting go of anger, resentment, injustices, and abuses but letting go of regrets, missed opportunities, disappointments in ourselves, and dried-up dreams is just as important if we are wanting to open up communications with God.  Any issue that we dwell on or focus on that distracts us from the here and now with our Creator is just that…a distraction..and an energy drain.

Later in the magazine, in the article “How to live a mindful life,” item 7: Forgive and Let Go:

Lily Tomlin once said, “Forgiveness means letting go of the hope for a better past.”  Letting go is hard.  It’s also easy – we let go every single night when we go to bed.  When we hold onto our mistakes or the mistakes of others, it only serves to stress us out, which has negative impacts on our minds, bodies, and  relationships.  Ask yourself, “Am I ready to let go of this burden?”  If so, try breathing in and acknowledging the pain you feel, breathing out and releasing the burden.

Remember my points in “Dare to Change?”  and “Don’t Hate…Just Don’t?” and recently in “How to Win the War?” about the need to let go of everything, good and bad, that becomes a burden, blocking the way to reconciliation with God?  I would add to Item 7, the need to fill in behind the released burden with good stuff like thankfulness, gratitude, and awareness of God.  And there’s always help from the Holy Spirit to identify those burdens and just how to let them go.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.