Newlywed and Learning New Things Already!

Hello there! If you know me, you know I have a heart for helping wives. Let me introduce you my favorite newlywed: Tamara Davis – oops! Debose! I was blessed to travel from Dallas to Florida attend her wedding to Mr. Chris DeBose in September of this year. It was a blessed occasion, a wedding where God was the center of the ceremony indeed!

Now, just so you know, this was actually my first time meeting Tamara. She’s one of my long-time loyal readers, a huge Mama B fan, and we are grandma-twins (her granddaughter is exactly 2 months older than mine). We both love to laugh and we love the Lord, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to travel to Florida along with another friend and witness the nuptials.

Photo by Above Brand Photography

So, now that she’s married, you know I couldn’t wait to interview her for my Wife Chat. After only one month of marriage, she’s already learning new things about her husband, and they’ve had to stand together against an attack only hours after saying their vows!

Click here to listen to Tamara’s wife chat and many more!

If you would like to share your wisdom with wives, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email: contact @ warriorwives.club.

Latest Release – Step of Faith

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Hello there!

I hope you are enjoying Spring wherever you are. It’s beauty surprises me every year. No matter what’s happening in the world, who’s being investigated, who’s fighting whom, or what dangers lurk ahead, the flowers remind me that He is yet on the throne!

Speaking of fresh beginnings, I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Ms. Frenchie Davenport, the main character in a new series of books I’m co-authoring with CaSandra McLaughlin. The series is called “Magnolia Gardens”, which is the name of the senior living facility where Frenchie recently moved. She’ll meet a cast of characters who will become her new family. They’re really not the problem. It’s her “old” family that’s causing all the issues! What’s she to do about a grown son who thinks he’s entitled to her money? And what about the daughter who rarely keeps in touch? These are the kinds of things we face as we age and our loved ones age, too.

You can check out the video of Cassandra and I talking about this series here. (Note: We’ve been told that we’re quite a team on camera as well!)

I pray that this series will be a blessing to you and that you’ll grow to love the characters as much as we do!

Order Here!

 

 

My Intermittent Fasting Story

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Hey there!

I hope this blog post finds you all transitioning into a wonderful spring!

Well, this post isn’t about books or writing. It’s about something I’ve been asked to share based on a Facebook post I made on my birthday last week. It was about my recent weight loss (43.6 pounds in 3 months) and change in eating.

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For the record, I think my daughter’s camera made me look skinnier than I am – LOL!

Several people tagged me and inboxed me asking for details about my experience with Intermittent Fasting (IF) and exactly what I’ve done. So instead of responding individually, I thought I’d just write a blogpost and share with everyone.

Let me first say that I am not a dietician, health expert, lawyer, doctor, or anybody who is any authority to give you medical advice. Take this as a personal testimonial and consult with a physician as you would before starting any diet.

How it started for me

My issue with fitness was not necessarily eating too much or even emotional eating. I just ate way too much fast food, and I ate at irregular intervals. I had already learned to speak to my food and not be controlled by impulses and binges or eating just because something was on the table in the employee break room. I think that’s important to say because if you are addicted to food and using it as an idol (going to it as your savior/comfort/friend/ confidante), you will need to get something else in place in advance. Have a constructive plan for what you will do when you face a crisis, have something to celebrate, get tired, or feel confused—these are times when food has normally been there for you. You will continue to have these times in life. But now that you won’t be turning to food, you need a substitute. Don’t leave it to yourself to figure out what to do in that moment. (Of course, I recommend prayer and time alone with God.) Additionally, consider taking a power nap, coloring, or calling a friend.

Something else that probably contributed to gaining weight for me was a partial hysterectomy in late 2016. Though that procedure is not “supposed” to cause weight gain, umm….it did for me. I would eat my normal diet and still gain weight. Not a lot of weight at once, but, say, half a pound a month. I wasn’t so much concerned about my health (I believe my health is in Christ), I was concerned about my level of fitness and what that slight but steady weight gain would mean for me over time.

Eating a normal diet but gaining weight was completely frustrating to me. I felt like I was once again at war with food. Though I was winning (mostly), it was still a fight. I was at a mental place where I was just done with food. I was tired of thinking about it, loving it, hating it, buying it, cleaning up after it, planning for it, speaking to it, being bullied by it, fighting it, just everything. Honestly, if I could just not eat anything else, I would be fine. I’ve had enough cupcakes, enough yeast rolls, enough juice to last a lifetime. That’s how done I am with food (even now).

I had begun fasting regularly back in 2014, when I was going through a lot of transitions. I found a great deal of peace in pushing the plate aside and focusing on spiritual matters and a lot of other things that I needed to handle—things that required a great deal of mental clarity and focus. Removing food (which, for me, was mostly a bunch of carbs) brought greater clarity.

Of course, the problem is you can’t fast for forever.

So there I was on December 7, 2017, looking for a way to eat less without harming my health and without bringing myself into an eating disorder (I mean that seriously). That night, I stumbled upon this article about a lady who does Alternate Day Fasting (ADF), which is a form of IF. She reference research and other testimonials, and I was able to read comments that shed light on the eating style. There are many forms of IF, by the way, but I don’t have experience in those.

Basically, the way I do ADF has been to eat low-carb foods on “feed” days. I don’t eat anything on my fast days. Some people do eat up to 500 calories on fast days. But for me, it’s easier to just not eat anything than to tease myself with little bites.

Here is how it looks for me in a typical week:

FEED DAY (every other day, trying to meet my TDEE caloric needs)

Breakfast (around 6:00am):

1 piece of bacon and 1-2 scrambled eggs with cheese

Take vitamins (multivitamin, Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium)

Green tea with lemons

Start drinking my 50oz of water (drink this up throughout the day)

Snack (around 9:30am)

5 raw almonds

5 Multi-Grain Tortilla chips

Lunch (around 12:30pm)

Salad

Meat (usually poultry)

Something sweet/carbs (maybe a few pieces of hard candy, half a dinner roll, a small serving of something with potatoes or pasta)

Dinner (around 4:00pm)

Meat (usually poultry)

Vegetables and/ or another salad

Snack (around 6:00pm)

5 raw almonds

½ a serving of graham crackers OR 5 more chips

FAST  Day (every other day)

Morning:

Take vitamins

Green tea with lemons

Start drinking my 50oz of water (drink this up throughout the day)

Tips & Advice

Side Effects I’ve Experienced

Bad Breath – One side effect of fasting and low-carbs is bad breath. I keep a pack of sugar-free Mentos Pure Breath mints with me. I don’t really like the flavor, so I just chew it for a few minutes and then spit it out.

Heart Burn – a well-known side effect of fasting is heartburn. I experience this probably once or twice a week on a fast day, usually in the evenings. I take Zantac and keep it moving.

Energy Level – In these past three months, I have had about 4 or 5 days in which I felt weak and needed to come home and take a nap immediately after work. In retrospect, that usually happens when I didn’t get in all my calories the day before.

Lack of Appetite – Fasting every other day has actually caused me to have less and less of an appetite pretty much any day. This seems like a good thing, but this does make it hard to fulfill my caloric needs on feed days because I’m just not hungry. When I don’t eat all my food on feed day, that causes an energy drop on fast day. I just have to try to make good, enticing food for myself so I’ll eat enough.

Insomnia – Early in the process, I had some trouble sleeping on fast days. Not every day, but enough for it to bother me. I have to get up at 5:45am many mornings, so I couldn’t have this. Unsettled sleep is actually something that people have discussed in IF forms. I took an over-the-counter sleep aid a few times. After a month or so, I didn’t have this problem.  

Random Aches – You’ve heard of “growing pains.” Well, I experienced “shrinking pains.” These were just random little things here and there. One day my shoulder would be a little sore. Then the next week, my thigh felt weird. When I got much smaller, I felt like my ribcage was poking me in the side. I have no explanation for these things, but I did see someone else posting about it once in a forum so I didn’t worry about it much.

Mental/Emotional Issues to Consider

Hunger – You will be hungry sometimes, especially in the first few weeks. But the good news is that hunger comes in waves, and those waves do pass. You will not be physically hungry 24/7. You might be mentally or emotionally hungry, but that is another issue altogether.

Sharing – People will start to notice that you are losing weight and they’ll ask you what you’re doing. When you tell them that you are eating every other day, they will look at you like you have lost your mind. Westerners have been thoroughly trained to eat three meals a day whether we need to or not. This myth is part of what keeps the economy going. The truth is, most of us would do well to consume far less. Besides, just because someone is eating every day doesn’t meant they’re actually nourishing their bodies. If half of what they eat is junk, they’re basically only eating half the time already. Expect the most criticism from others who are struggling with their own eating habits. IF and ADF is not for everyone, but you can encourage them to find what works for them.

Social Situations – Because I started in December, there was a lot to consider with regard to social events. I ate a little at everything I went to, whether it was a feed day or not. The good thing about January was that (in my circle) a lot of people were fasting, so it was pretty common to see people abstaining. I fit right in. I did eat a cupcake for my granddaughter’s first birthday, but it was not all that I thought it would be. In fact, it made me feel a little bloated since I hadn’t eaten sugar like that in over a month.

What I find, for the most part, is that if I don’t bring up the fact that I’m fasting, people won’t even notice it. They just assume I’ve eaten earlier or I brought my lunch and I’m eating alone. I mean, when you think about it, you don’t spend that much time actually chewing food in a day. You probably spend more time thinking about it, going to get it, preparing it, and cleaning up after it than actually eating. It’s not that serious. 

With regard to my family, they are very accommodating now. My husband will ask, “Is this a fast day?” before he invites me to a meal, and he respects my answer. He knows I’ll be eating the next day, so we can try that new restaurant either today or tomorrow. My daughter now understands that if it’s a fast day, we are not going to eat a meal together. She’s not necessarily happy about it, but she does understand. 

The Scale – I did get the Healthy Scale app to track my weight loss trends. I think it’s important to weight pretty regularly, if not daily. It’s true that the scale can lie, but for the most part, it’s telling the truth. Because I’m trying out different recipes and such, I want to know right away if something is sabotaging me. For example, I started drinking shakes from a well-known “low-carb” line, but noticed right away that I wasn’t losing as much on my fast days. Because I was watching the data, I was able to make a change quickly. The same thing happened to me with fried chicken. I always thought it was low-carb, thus it wouldn’t affect my body. Wrong! The next morning, the scale told me that my body didn’t like it, so I was able to adjust instead of eating something blindly without realizing that I was inadvertently undermining my efforts.

Don’t freak out – The downside of watching the numbers is that there will be times when you gain or stall inexplicably. It’s also important for you to recognize that when you’re doing ADF, you may start off losing weight every day. Then, at some point, you’re losing weight every fast day and gaining some of it back every feed day. In any case, the tendency is to say to yourself, “This is not working. I quit.” This is what I call “freaking out.” In the words of my fellow author friend, Unoma Nwonkar, don’t freak out—freak it back in! Freak it back in!

Recognize that the process is not totally downhill. It looks more like this:

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Stay with the process. I went about 10 days stuck between these 3 pounds. It was totally discouraging, but I kept saying to myself, “Stay the course. Stay the course.” I mean, what else was I going to do—make it worse with a piece of fried chicken? It’s helpful to look back at the data and remind yourself that you are making progress.

I freaked out a few times and did two fast days in a row because of that salt craziness. I don’t recommend this. Things always work out eventually, so it’s not necessary to fast more than one day at a time.

Obsessing about the fast – It took about 7 weeks for me to stop being obsessed with the fact that I was actually fasting every other day. I guess I just couldn’t believe it for myself. I had fasted before, but this was like, 3 or 4 days a week! I found myself constantly looking at my watch, thinking, “How long until I can go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and eat?” and “What’s the first thing I’m going to eat tomorrow?” and “I just can’t believe I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday!” and going to bed on a feed day thinking, “Oh my gosh—I’m not eating anything tomorrow!” It’s kind of like when you first experience any major change in your life, you think about it all the time. Then, one day you wake up and it’s just not that serious anymore. Now, I wake up and I’m like, “Ummm…is it a fast day or a feed day? I don’t even care. It’s just a day.”

Exercise – I believe you lose weight in the kitchen, you get fit at the gym. I haven’t put the two together right now. I did try to exercise one day on a fast day. That was not a good idea. I haven’t exercised much this entire three months, but I do feel quite flabby right now so I’m going to start soon.

Maintenance – When I reach my goal weight, I will move to the 5:2 plan – eating five days a week, fasting two days. This is actually something that Jews have done as a regular practice (see Luke 18:12). There are also lots of books and resources to help IF people continue this as a lifestyle.

Food

Okay, so this information has more to do with low-carbing that IF, but I thought I would share anyway. You don’t have to do low-carb (or any kind of special diet) with IF. Some people say they eat “anything they want” when they’re doing IF and they still lose weight. I imagine that will probably be true for a while because they’re probably already eating “anything they want” already. They are just cutting down their intake on fast days, which will absolutely result in weight loss just by the math of it all.

I just did low-carb because my body likes it. It keeps inflammation down, it keeps my appetite in check, and I just like the way it makes me feel.

Meals

Because you’re only eating every other day, you only need to make two or three days’ worth of stuff at a time. Woo hoo! I also live near a lot of restaurants (which is how I got in this position to begin with – LOL!) so I cheat quite a bit when it comes to cooking. 

Salad Tip – Unless you just like buying and preparing salads, go and get salads from a restaurant with a salad bar instead of buying all those ingredients and preparing/cutting them up at home. My new favorite is Jason’s Deli’s salad bar to go. For $8.65, I can get enough for 3 really big, good salads with all the fixings, with these little bitty cornbread muffins—just enough to feel like I had some bread. A good salad bar box will last me 3 feed days. After that, it’s probably going to go bad.

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To-go salad from Jason’s Deli

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Salads for the week. (Also made some for my husband)

Dressing – I like Wingstop’s ranch dressing the best. I usually get two of dip sizes (they are like 99¢ each) then go over to where they have the ketchup containers and get those little mini-containers. Then when I get home, I divide up the dressing and pack it up in my lunches.

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I bought the large tub this time, but I usually get the smaller ones.

Vegetables – My favorite thing to do is go get a vegetable plate to go from Cheddar’s, Boston Market, or Luby’s. That’ll give me me 4-5 servings of veggies.  I usually get broccoli, green beans, spinach, cabbage, or occasionally glazed carrots. 

Water – Lately, I have been drinking Essential water (or anything that comes in a 50 oz container) because it helps me have a visual of exactly how much water I have or have  not consumed for the day. I try to be finished drinking my water by 8:00pm so I won’t be up all night using the restroom. 

Beware of salty meats in restaurants – Food served in fast-food places and chain restaurants have to be processed in such a way that they all taste the same at all their locations. That means one thing for meat: SALT. Salt will cause water weight gain, and it will definitely show up on the scale and perhaps even in your appearance. You can decide to just get over the water weight and “don’t freak out”, or you can just decide not to put yourself through this drama by avoid eating out altogether, especially when it comes to meats. If you must eat out, go online and look at the menu ahead of time so you can already have it in your head what you’re getting before you get there. (*I realize that bacon is salty, but I refuse to give up bacon, period.)

Time of Day – If I’m going to eat carbs, it will usually be during the lunch meal. That will give my body time to burn it off before I go to bed. I suggest you experiment with foods/times to learn how your body reacts to certain foods at certain times.

ICE drink – This is a calorie-free soda substitute. I drank a lot of these at the beginning because I felt like I needed some flavor in my mouth. I can probably drink about 1/3 of one of these on a fast day with no side effect. But if I drink more than that, I notice a slow-down of weight loss. I believe that’s because it does contain sucralose, a sugar substitute that can still effect blood sugar.

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Speak to Your Food – Something I do when I feel tortured by foods is to speak to them. (This is something I  published a Christian book about a few years ago.) So, if my daughter brings in a bag of Doritos that I have to see every time I open the pantry, I use my words to limit that temptation.

Good News: Because I don’t eat every day, I don’t get tired of eating the same thing every day. Woo hoo! To that end, here are some of my favorite low-carb eats:

Cheese shell tacos – (I use ground turkey, pico, and ranch dressing in mine) https://www.homemadeinterest.com/low-carb-taco/

Bell Pepper Boats – https://skinnyms.com/skinny-bell-pepper-nachos-recipe/

Kabobs – (I use KC Masterpiece Honey Teriyaki Marinade for the sauce) https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/8626/yummy-honey-chicken-kabobs/

Meatballs (turkey, beef, or chicken) – these were made in the air fryer. I usually have a little bit of BBQ sauce on the side. 

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Jimmy Dean Frittatas – I eat these if I’m in a hurry in the mornings. My body tolerates this well even though it’s processed.

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Pizza on CauliPower® Crust – this is made with cauliflower, so it’s not really carb-free. Just see how your body responds. I found this crust at Sprouts – $7.99 for two. 

Olive Garden’s® Zuppa Toscana Soup made with a little cauliflower instead of potatoes – http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/better-than-olive-gardens-zuppa-toscana-493203

Okay, I hope that helps you get started if you think IF is for you. Be blessed! 

Mama B is Back!

Hello everyone! Whew! I know it’s been a while since I published a Mama B book – two years, actually. I can’t believe it took me THAT long to return to her wisdom, her wit, and the characters. I missed them tremendously, but I truly had a bunch of other stuff come up over these past years. Not the least of which is my sweet granddaughter.

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She’s growing up!

This one here keeps me busy – in a good way! Watching her grow up through a grandmother’s eyes is something for which I’m truly grateful.

I also accepted a full-time, grant-funded position working with teachers to create and share research-based lessons. It’s a lot of fun and very gratifying, but it’s also a lot of work because of the “grant” status. I’ve made some new friends and gotten a chance to view teaching and learning in a different light. I’ll decide when the grant is over if I’m ready to stay in full-time get-up-and-comb-your-hair-every-day world!

Anyhow, now that THE WAIT IS OVER, Mama B is back with Frank, Son, Debra Kay, and some new characters that I hope you’ll enjoy as well.

Mama B: A Time for Peace finds Mama B away from Peasner, TX, in unfamiliar surroundings and out of her usual schedule. Though Mama B has a strong relationship with the Lord, the stresses of life outside her normal routine cause her to lose sight of things and lean to her own understanding rather than consult with the Lord about every matter.

This, of course, is something I’m dealing with in real-time right now! The changing of life-seasons, a new schedule, working with new people, splitting time between writing and working outside of home–these are all things that compete for my attention. And, like Mama B, I have had to make my “prayer closet” mobile, stealing away for quiet moments at lunch, in my car, or whenever I can grab them.

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The mobile prayer closet!

I know we are to pray unceasingly (which is something I am learning all the more, too). But the quiet, uninterrupted, dedicated time alone with God is so sweet to me. I NEED IT!

I pray that my story and Mama B’s latest adventure will encourage you to live life in the fullness of Christ wherever you might go, whatever you might find yourself doing!

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Mama B: A Time for Peace

 

 

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!