Who Killed My Husband?

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I  know, I know…it’s a different kind of title. (Thankfully, my husband is still alive – we’re looking forward to celebrating our 24th anniversary soon!)

But this story, Who Killed My Husband, did make me look at relationships differently. Believe it or not, we are not in control of the entire universe. And we can pray effectually, but we don’t always immediately see things the way God sees them. Even the prophet Elisha was stumped by why God didn’t reveal something to him ahead of time–and he was truly close to the Lord! (2 Kings 4:27)

My main character, Ashley Crandall, is growing in her relationship with the Lord while it seems her husband, Allan, is not. He doesn’t even look like he’s trying to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Their marriage was recently shaken by the loss of their only child, which has placed yet another wedge between them.

This fast-paced story starts with the death of Ashley’s husband but ends with a lesson about life that she’ll never forget…and I hope you won’t forget the lesson, either!

Speaking of Fathers…

Deacon Brown’s Daughters, which I co-authored with CaSandra McLaughlin, has opened up a whole conversation with fellow authors and acquaintances who grew up without their natural fathers. It’s been interesting to hear their stories and learn how, even as adults, they are forming new relationships with their dads.

One of the most interesting stories came from Carla Butler. Though she had seen pictures of a man she didn’t know while growing up, no one would tell her who that man was. No one would talk about her Daddy. Carla didn’t start demanding answers until she was an adult. She met her father when she was 30 years old and spent her first Father’s Day with him when she was 50.  She wrote about her experience in getting to know herself, her biological father, as well as her Heavenly Father in her book: This Little Girl’s Journey

I’m always curious about how things are going once estranged family members meet. In Carla’s case, she says, “Initially, the relationship seemed to be progressing quite  nicely. We talked  on the phone  regularly, mostly me calling him.He would send nice cards and for holidays or my birthday, he often would send a token of love. We seemed to have good conversations about everyday things, not much about the family.

After meeting my second sister for the first time that Father’s Day, I came home with lots of questions. She looked so very different from me or the sister I had met years prior. Apparently me writing him a letter asking questions caused a distance between us. At this point, he will answer and talk when I call him but he no longer sends cards or initiates phone calls.”

Some of the people who have read Deacon Brown’s Daughters wanted more information–did Stanley and Yolanda start a new relationship? What about Debbie? Will he be able to have a relationship with Sabrina without Valerie’s interference? Though I’m completely in control of what happens with a fictional novel, life itself can make some unexpected turns!

Whether your relationship with your father is great, rough, or nonexistent, I pray that you will take a moment to thank the men in your life how have contributed to the wonderful person you are today. It’s not easy being a man. And not every man was ready to be a father when that time came. But for many of us, it’s not too late to move forward. The relationship may not look like a traditional father-child relationship, but it might be a pretty picture nonetheless.

Happy Father’s Day!

Be Blessed!

Part 2 – Why I Renounced Membership in a Greek Sorority and Why I’m Compelled to Tell Others

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This is a continuation of the article about renouncing my sorority. I’d like to answer some of the questions frequently asked by people with whom I’ve shared my change of heart.

Q: What, exactly, did you see in the books that made you want to leave your particular sorority?

A: With respect to the beloved women I know in the organization, I am not going to share specifics they still hold sacred. I will tell you, however, that the national hymn, the numerous references to the wisdom from a goddess (rather than God), substituting /re-wording parts of Scripture with sorority/Greek stuff, and the end-of-life ceremony symbolically committing our souls to the great eternal chapter are all serious problems for me. [As I understand it, several Greek organizations perform such rites when a member dies.]

Q: I don’t idolize my Greek letters. I put God first in everything I do. Isn’t this a personal issue that every believer needs to decide for himself/herself?

A: Some people will idolize anything—a sorority, a football team, their boyfriend. This is another issue altogether.

For me, there was never a question of whether or not God was first place in my life. The question was whether or not the pledge to the sorority should have any place in my life.  I had to ask myself: Could I imagine Jesus holding up a sorority/fraternity sign? Would Jesus repeat these words in my sorority doctrine/pledges? Would He sing this national hymn? My answer is: No, I can’t imagine Him doing any of those things. Why not? Because He had a very singular purpose in life: to bring glory to the Father. I cannot imagine Him–in all His holiness and wisdom and power–pledging to a Greek society. And since I actually believe He lives in me, I want my agenda to match His. This, of course, is an ongoing process in me. Leaving the sorority was just one of many things  laid aside on this journey of conformation to the image of Christ, and I’m sure there are more to come.

Q: Do you think all Christians should renounce their Greek letters?

I can’t answer intelligently because I haven’t read all of their books.

But I do think every believer has an obligation to find out if what they are doing is in line with the living Word (Jesus) in them and make informed choices. Revisit everything you do—what you watch, what you hear, what you celebrate, and yes, your Greek letter organization. Nothing is above the Word.

[A side note here: To date, I still have not had this discussion about with anyone in the sorority who has actually read the books in their entirety. I also heard from someone who pledged in the 60s that they didn’t have any sorority “books” back then. So it’s possible there’s an older group of sorority members who didn’t pledge with the same words/ceremonies  as subsequent members.]

If you are hesitant to even cross-examine your books, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I resisting holding up the light of God’s Word to these books?”  Isn’t it worth knowing whether or not you are representing something that displeases your true first Love every time you put on your shirt? Even if you prayed before you pledged decades ago, isn’t your walk with God and your understanding of the Scriptures deeper now than when you were 19? Over the years, hasn’t He opened your eyes to plenty of things you once thought were fine but you now realize are not beneficial or have no eternal value?

These are serious questions, indeed. I’m asking you to do the work and find the answers, not rely on the understanding you had years ago or even what a whole bunch of other people have believed for the past 100 or so years. Ask God the questions. Let Him know that whatever He shows you now, you will obey fully.

Should you come to the conclusion that there is no conflict, carry on.

I actually have a dear sister in Christ (in a different sorority) who wears her Greek shirt and hangs with her sorority sisters solely as an opportunity to minister. She’s not active, she’s not financial—she just knows the only reason some of them will give her an opportunity to share the gospel is because she’s wearing those colors. Basically, she’s undercover with a very intentional purpose. That is the direct assignment He gave her when she prayed about her sorority involvement.

God strategically places people for His purposes. Who am I to say how He can or can’t use someone?

However, IF you prayerfully read your books AND  you come to the conclusion that there is definitely conflict between the Word and your organization (and you are not appointed to a divine undercover mission) I pray that you will  renounce and share your testimony to save others the trouble of pledging to something that brings them out of alignment with God’s perfect will. Know that you are soooooo not alone! Just like there’s a bunch of folk who pledged, there’s also a growing bunch of folk who have walked away for the cause of Christ. Google it! You’ll find websites and plenty of Youtube video testimonials to this effect.

 Q: So you think you’re more holy than my Pastor/mentor/parent who is a proud member of a Greek letter organization?

A: The question itself is misguided. I am not the standard. Neither is your pastor/mentor/parent. Jesus is the standard. The Word is the measure of what is true and what is right and what is best.

Q: Why are you trying to break up the black community? The Divine9 organizations help push our agenda!

 A: The “Black Agenda” is not synonymous with the “Kingdom Agenda.” And just because something claims to be founded on “Christian principles” doesn’t mean it glorifies God.

Q: But these organizations do a lot of good! Isn’t that what matters?

A: I agree. For the record, so do Republicans. So do Democrats. So do atheist organizations. My points: 1) You don’t have to be in any particular organization to do good things for humanity; 2) Just because an organization does good does not necessarily mean they are set up to honor God. Believers have to discern.

Q: I agree with you, Michelle. How can Spirit-filled Christians be a part of these organizations?

A: Christians disagree on many things, thus the number of denominations we have in the faith. There are believers who support President Trump and believers who are a part of the resistance. There were vehement disagreements amongst saints in the New Testament, but the work of the Kingdom never stopped. All I can say is that all believers need to be stay increasingly focused on what God has called us to do, seek Him and His ways, and walk in the light we currently have without damning one another.

Q: What do you think about Christian sororities/fraternities?

A: I just learned about such organizations when I posted the first part of this article last week. I can’t answer this question because I haven’t done my research. At this point, I only have questions of my own: Is there an “application” process? If so, can a believer be rejected from the fellowship? Must a potential member have the funds to be a part of the organization? If the answer to those questions is “yes”, then my eyebrow is officially raised because I just don’t see that exclusivity in Christ. A part of me is like, “Why don’t they fellowship together without the Greek letters?” But I realize I’m being far too simple because I truly don’t know about them. I reserve my final thoughts until further research. Perhaps someone can enlighten me in the comments.

Let me say this, though, while we’re kinda sorta on this topic and my eyebrow is raised: Believers just need to say “no” about some stuff. We don’t need to create a Christian alternate version of everything in an effort to keep ourselves from feeling “left out” of the world. We are different from the world. We are a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). We would do well to accept that truth and wear it proudly rather than try to imitate the world.

Q: I have learned the true meaning of friendship through my sorority/fraternity. Are you saying I should give all that up?  

A: I will warn you that it could be painful to find that you are no longer invited to get-togethers or events with your line sisters/brothers and such.  It’s okay. You don’t have that bond in common with them anymore. If they are your brothers and sisters in Christ, however, I pray the union in Christ will cause you to stay in fellowship.

But in the case your friendships deteriorate because you’re no longer in the group, I pray God will send you brothers/sisters in Christ who will befriend you and vice versa. You are not the first Christian to cut ties or be excluded because of your beliefs, and you won’t be the last.

Q: Is it really that serious?

A: I think it is. But again, Michelle Stimpson is not the standard. Better questions to ask: Are words and pledges that serious to God?   What was Paul’s message to New Testament believers who continued in their reverence to Greek gods/ideals/practices? These are the questions we need to be asking. And the Bible holds all the answers. I pray we would all read that book, too!

Thank you so much for reading this post. I welcome any comments/questions. I pray that it will help you make an informed decision about joining, leaving, or staying in a Greek Letter Organization. Again, please know that I have shared this in Christ’s love and a deep concern for His body.

Jesus is Lord!

Be blessed!

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Why I Renounced Membership in a Greek Sorority and Why I’m Compelled to Tell Others – Part 1

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This change of heart and mind started with a trip back to the yard with my line sisters for homecoming weekend in 2013*. Friday night, we attended a Greek Show. Afterward, I stood with them watching some fraternity guys do their dance. I watched one guy’s face morph from that of a perfectly normal human being to the exact imitation of a dog—tongue hanging out, neck twitching, panting. I thought, “Wow. That’s amazing how he just did that!”

Something in me said, “That’s not natural.”

But since I’m obviously not in a men’s fraternity, I brushed off the thought.

The next day, there was a meeting of the sorority sisters in the dance hall. There must have been about 150 or so of us in the room. Some of the women were yelling a chant that I never learned, and there was a line in the song about how we would show St. Peter our sorority pins and be admitted into heaven. Mind you, that’s not an official song of the sorority, but again, it gave me pause. It caused a restlessness in my spirit that I couldn’t shake.

So I began to ask Him questions: God, what do You think about sororities and fraternities? Did these organizations exist in biblical times? Would Jesus join a fraternity? Can I imagine Him throwing up the hand signs? What does the Bible say about what I pledged to 21 years ago?

That last question led me to do something that I had not done since…ever! I didn’t actually know what all I had pledged to because, as secret societies go, you can’t completely know what you’re pledging to until you’ve already pledged. You don’t get to read “the books” until you’re already in. It’s like signing a blank check based on the fact that so many other people you admire signed it blind, too.

To be honest, the night I “went over”, I put on my T-shirt, pranced around campus with my new sorority sisters, and rejoiced like crazy. When we finally received our sorority books, I didn’t actually sit down and read them. I put them on a shelf. Admired them. Smiled at them. The only time I pulled them out was when I had to go to a ceremony and read a portion of text. Otherwise, I didn’t read those books any more than I read every single page of my car insurance policy or my student loan papers. In fact, ALL of the sorority members who have sincerely asked me about my renouncement have admitted to me that they’ve NEVER read their books completely, either.

Truth be told: When I really started to think about it in 2013, I didn’t want to read the books. Not prayerfully. Not with my growing knowledge of the Scriptures. Not with the Holy Spirit’s magnifying glass handy. I didn’t want to find out anything that would cause me to lose connection with my line sisters, make me have to renounce, make me have to risk people thinking I’m “too deep” spiritually, or even cause people to stop reading my books if they found out I had renounced. And what was I supposed to do with all that paraphernalia?

Despite the fact that I didn’t want to re-examine what I had pledged to, there was no way I could quench those burning questions without reading “the books”. Even more, I had to question myself: Why am I resisting this? If it’s all good, there shouldn’t be a problem, right? Why am I trusting all these other admirable Christian women’s interpretations rather reading the books for myself?

So I did it. When I returned from my weekend at the yard, I read all three of my little books from cover to cover in one sitting for the very first time ever. The result: I no longer agreed with what I had pledged to.

As I read some of the passages from our intake process again, I remembered how (back in ’92) I’d had an uneasy feeling with some of the vows. I remember thinking, “This kind of sounds like a Scripture…but it’s…different.” Yet, I’d carried on. I wasn’t going to abort the process. Back then, I didn’t recognize the “uneasy feeling” as the Holy Spirit’s check. Secondly, I didn’t want the disgrace of having “dropped” the line. People at my small college would look at me crazy from that day forward. Last but not least, I sure wasn’t going to waste all the hard-earned money I had spent to pledge. No ma’am!

We were in one of the first lines to go through the membership intake process since strict new anti-hazing laws had been passed. We were pretty certain they weren’t going to hit us or make us drink ‘till we passed out or get with some guys we didn’t know. I figured, “If all we have to do is say some words, I’m in there!”

I didn’t understand the power of words.

Needless to say, after reading the books decades later and researching the disturbing history of secret societies, I could no longer remain a member of a Greek letter organization.

I was out.

I was content to leave quietly, like an uncontested divorce. But in recent months, I’ve heard the buzz from my younger cousins and nieces about pledging sororities and I’m cringing because I know what they are about to agree to. They can’t know because no one within the organization will inform them ahead of time. Like me, my sweet relatives probably see the strong women on campus exemplifying sisterhood, doing good things, and they want to be a part of it. They have no concept of how these organizations are inherently bound to Greek gods.

I can’t speak for every fraternity or sorority because, obviously, I haven’t read all their books. But I have Googled and found the official lyrics of the anthems of the “Divine Nine” (isn’t that something to be questioned right there?) and I can tell you that I wouldn’t advise any believer to sing or speak those words. This is why I am compelled to share what I know now.

Thank you so much for reading this post. I welcome any comments/questions. I pray that it will help you make an informed decision about joining, leaving, or staying in a Greek Letter Organization. Please know that I have shared this in Christ’s love and a deep concern for His body. He is Lord!

In my next post on this topic, I’ll share some of the most frequently asked questions from people who have wanted more information about this decision. I’ve been hit with some hard questions – everything from “Is it really that serious?” to “Why are you trying to break up the black community?” to “You think you’re holier than my Pastor, who is a proud member of…?” I’ll share my answers to those questions and more.

If you’d like to ask something, please feel free to comment, inbox, or email me! Be blessed!

*Note: While I was only privy to one sorority’s information, I think it’s important that every believer in any sorority/fraternity/secret society read their books entirely!

Deacon Brown’s Daughters

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I am sooooo excited about this latest release, Deacon Brown’s Daughters, which was co-authored with CaSandra McLaughlin. This is our 5th book together, and we really put “our feet” in this one!

It’s the story of Stanley David Brown, who used to be a ladies’ man back in the day. Now, he’s God’s man – but will the children he abandoned agree? His quest to become a deacon at his local church will prove to be more of a challenge than he bargained for!

Both CaSandra and I have histories that positioned us to write this book. My natural father and I did have a relationship when I was growing up. He and my mother divorced when I was an infant. My mother moved back to Texas, he stayed in California, and that was pretty much all I knew. My mother re-married when I was three and I got great Dad out of the deal.

CaSandra, on the other hand, always knew her father, but they didn’t form a strong relationship until she was a young adult. In both of our cases, we have learned that our parents were not perfect people. Now that we, too, realize that we were imperfect parents, we are in a better place to process what happened and what didn’t happen when we were children. It’s amazing how perspectives change over time, with experience, and with prayer.

What made Deacon Brown’s Daughters so interesting to me was the opportunity to explore the heart of a man who was trying to right his wrongs. Not because he was dying or because he felt guilty, but because his growing relationship with Christ compelled him to become the upstanding man God had called him to be. But will his adult children allow him to prove himself after all these years? How many times can he apologize before he gives up again? And what do his children’s mothers have to say about his sudden change of heart?

CaSandra and I pray that this book will bring healing and thoughtful reflection to children and parents alike. Just having discussion with people about the book’s topic has already sparked some unexpected reunions and long-overdue family conversations. Truth can help heal broken hearts and restore connections, even when it comes through a fiction book!

Part 1 -A Candid Interview with the Father I Didn’t Know

Hello all!

As you may know, CaSandra McLaughlin and I have a new release coming out in a matter of weeks. The book, Deacon Brown’s Daughters, is about a man who sired four children with four different women but had no relationship with his offspring once the relationship with the mothers ended.

It’s a touchy subject for so many people who didn’t grow up with their natural fathers. It’s also something that hit home for me. My mother and father divorced when I was a toddler. He stayed in California, my mother moved back to Texas. She remarried and I got a wonderful new Dad, who raised me as his own – thank God!

But I did have questions about my biological father. What happened? Why didn’t he try to contact me? Did he miss me all those years?

Well, writing Deacon Brown’s Daughters stirred up some of those questions, and I wanted to get some answers. It was good writing research, of course, but it also gave me a new perspective on my father that also helps me appreciate my Dad and my Heavenly Father even more.

Here’s part 1 of that interview, conducted by fellow author Kendra Holmes. I pray that it will be a blessing to you and give you the courage to ask questions, seek answers, and perhaps gain new perspective on the fact that parents are people, too.

I’ll post part 2 soon and we’ll get the answer to the question of what I knew about my father and more!!!

And be sure you’re on my email list so I can let you know when the book releases! http://bit.ly/2m2OlQF

The Gift of Relaxation for You!

I pray that over the next weeks, you will find (or steal) time to sit down and relax and just be still! Here’s a page from my next coloring book. This design was hand-drawn by your truly.  I haven’t added a Scripture yet, so I figured it might be best to let you write a Scripture in the center – one that speaks to you where you are right now and then color as you meditate on that Word.  Merry Christmas!

(Right click and save or download here)

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War Room Strategies Blogtalk Show

Hello there! If you missed the discussion and walk-through of the War Room Strategies workbook held on LaSheera Lee’s blogtalk show, Read You Later, don’t fret! Here’s the link to both recordings. And if you haven’t printed out or ordered your copy of War Room Strategies: Developing Effectual Prayers for God’s Glory, you can do so here!

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