Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

With all the filters folks use on their photos these days, you really can’t believe everything you see. But no matter how you or I look at it, I’m a vertically challenged black woman. All I have to do is ask myself: “Can I reach the ketchup on the top shelf?” The resounding “No” isn’t good or bad. It just is. But if I think less of myself because I can pick only low-hanging fruit, that’s something else altogether. That thought involves judgement, and experts would say it reflects a poor body image. Body image. That phrase rears its ugly, self-centered head in our house quite often. For instance, once Maven wouldn’t wear a sleeveless outfit because her arms are too toned. Too toned, my ten-year-old gymnast and track star. Songbird won’t leave the house without earrings, as if they’re the feather that keeps her aloft. I’ve been to the grocery store in pjs, but I’d never go without my lip gloss. Go figure. Even our boys spend precious time picking out their curls or working on their six-pack, and Hubby wonders whether growing a beard makes him look debonair or elderly. The world says this is all part of having a healthy self-image, but for believers, a “healthy self-image” is an oxymoron, ranking up there with “self-empowerment” and “self-seeking.” These words point you in the wrong direction, putting the focus on the man in the mirror rather than the Man on the cross. But is it really that big a deal? Yes! A thing’s image isn’t its essence. It’s not real. Appearance isn’t everything. It’s not even the real thing....
June 4, 2017

June 4, 2017

Chocolate chips. Blueberries. And now, honey butter, the latest addition to our waffle recipe. This morning we learned if you just stir in a smidge of honey to softened or melted butter and smear it across your hot waffle, you’ll be in…okay, not heaven, but transported to a comfy seat at our table, right beside a very satisfied Maven. While the batter sizzled we talked about Proverbs 4, focusing on verse 7: “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” That’s an important reminder to us, in our scramble for college degrees, paychecks, publishing contracts, healthy food, friends, peace, exercise routines, sleep, recognition, or even just a Krispy Kreme doughnut to call my own. In all our getting, get understanding. Get Jesus. Jesus—one of the four “main characters” at the feeding of the five thousand. The others were the disciples, the crowd, and the boy with “five barley loaves and two small fish.” (John 6:9) Today, in his message at Central Church of God, Dr. Paul Conn helped us picture ourselves there in this Bible story by asking, “Who are you?” Do you overstep into your Father’s role, taking responsibility for sowing the seed, watering the seed, growing the seed, and reaping the final harvest? Are you one of the crowd, hungry for a Word, in need of a healing, searching for a miracle or just a crust of bread? Perhaps you’re an obedient disciple, anxious to protect your King, ready to obey, grateful to sit at His feet and spread His message. Or you might be “the lad,” holding something precious and willingly giving it up, seeing it multiplied and...
May 28, 2017

May 28, 2017

We suffered a casualty in the breakfast wars this morning: one of my favorite orange dishes bit the dust. Personally, I thought it was a high price to pay for sausage and cheese balls; it was part of a set that was gifted to me. But I held back the tears, angry words, and hugged the guilty party who was feeling (almost) as miserable as I. Before the “crash,” we talked about the meaning of this Memorial Day weekend and the life application of these passages: “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1Corinthians 7:23) “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) The little people listed some of the liberties they enjoy—freedom of speech and the press; the right to educate, live, and travel how and where they want; the opportunities to worship in a church or right here at home. We appreciate and remember all those who died to ensure those freedoms. Most of all, we are grateful to Jesus for dying on the cross, to God who gave up His only Son and Who resurrected Him on the third day, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit Who ever abides. Our sermon continued our holiday observance. Today, Pastor Livingston spoke on Romans 8:28-33: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also...
Game Changers

Game Changers

You know those scenes in movies with the large family all gathered together with a board game, laughing, teasing each other, playing stuff like Pictionary where there’s lots of ribbing and shouting and just good old fun? Okay, picture that same board game, but take out the laughter, and add a little blood, some sweat and a copious amount of tears. Insert arguing, keep the teasing, put an edge on the laughter, and delete the fun. Now you’ve got Family Game Night at our house. We love each other, no doubt. We study together, cook together, and agree on selections for Family Movie Night. Some days we’re around each other 24/7. We take family road trips, read books aloud, play piano duets, root for the same teams (sometimes), and generally believe in “We all go down with the ship.” But when it goes to Family Game Night…I feel like casting lots, hopping on the Ark with the winners, and praying for the folks left ashore. My little people are just a competitive bunch. They believe in playing by the rules, and board games just bring out all the warts in all of…well, I’ll say “them” and not “us” because I try to take the high road (emphasis on try). Yet, no amount of refereeing, shh-shing, and redirecting helps; when we whip out Taboo, Pay Day, charades, Be Sincere, Qwirkle, and other group games, sparks fly. Rule enforcers become rule benders. Peacemakers turn into peace breakers. I can roll dice with Think Tank in Acey-Deucy or place Blokus tiles with Hubby and Crusader; Songbird and Maven will laugh over Apples to Apples and...
May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017

Dessert after breakfast? Who does that? We do! We’re weird parents: we believe our gratitude for food isn’t measured by our happiness with what’s being served. But Sunday mornings, this credo doesn’t strictly apply. We’re celebrating the Sabbath after all, and our party people should enjoy the party food. So, today, when our block potatoes (hashbrowns to some) and sausage casserole were greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers, I made a strawberry loaf to serve after church. That’s what we mommies do, and that’s what Mother’s Day honors: our love, care, and understanding of our families. My love is deep enough to outlast TD’s tantrums and wide enough to reach Crusader in college—and it covers all the little people in between. We talked about the meaning of Mother’s Day during our Sunday school lesson on Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” My little people know that giving me flowers and preparing my favorite foods on the second Sunday of May isn’t what it takes to honor me. Honoring me means they express gentleness and solicitude toward each other, act with obedience and respect to us as parents, show deference and consideration in their relationships with others, and most of all, are faithful to and trust in God. So, “honoring” isn’t just about pleasing. It’s not all flowers, though it is all heart—love is what you do and feel. It’s a well-traveled, two-way street. Today, Central Church of God honored Pastor Livingston and his forty years as their shepherd. Just...
May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017

Growing up, we ate a bowl of grits almost every morning before school. I’d push my bowl aside to lay down on the warm spot it left behind. We’ve raised our own little people on Quaker, and today, almost everybody is a grits-eating believer. Songbird is the only holdout; she loves Jesus, but she can’t stand grits. The only way she eats them is smothered under shrimp and gravy. Since we didn’t have any shrimp today, Songbird stuck with the proteins. Nobody can pass up bacon and eggs. While Hubby stirred, fried, scrambled, and toasted, we discussed a different type of provision—spiritual, not physical. We talked about Joshua 7 and 8, which tell of the battles between Israel and Ai. These chapters show that it doesn’t matter the size of the adversary or the strength of its weaponry. Victory depends upon the presence and authority of God. Our morning lesson connected with Jeremiah 33:14, 15: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’” Today’s sermon expounded upon our Sunday morning devotional. The service didn’t go as planned. We didn’t get to hear all Reverend Livingston’s message; another pastor answered the call and stepped in. But even in this unusual turn of events, the lesson was clear: life in Christ isn’t about what we plan or what we expect. It’s not about how...