Your signature indicates your intention. It is only when you show up that signifies your commitment. – QuaWanna N. Bannarbie
Ten-year-old classmates, Simon and Jenesis lagged behind the rest of us as we approached the front doors of the school. I looked back wondering what was taking them so long. Simon had previously expressed that he didn’t want to go to school and his mother said that he had had a difficult morning. I could relate to Simon because my early morning hadn’t been so great either. I should have expected the unnecessary distractions. I triumphed despite that. It is #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay. We pressed on.
When Simon and Jenesis came around the corner to the school door, they both were showing each other how they were going to hold their Bibles in their hands as they went to class. They barely seemed to notice their mothers standing by to wish them well on their day. I watched as they disappeared through the double archway of the school hall heading toward their class. Jenesis on the left and Simon on the right both nodding heads as if to say “let’s do this”.
MOTHERING IS A TOOL
Motherhood, for me, has up and down seasons. There are days when I feel like I want to close myself up in a closet because I get so overwhelmed. There are other days when I can pat myself on the back and say, “Girl, you done good.” Today, I am a good girl.
When I told my children about the Focus on the Family campaign, neither of them declared that they wouldn’t do it. I thought about the fact that in this day and time, my reality could have been that they were uncooperative. Children today tell their parents what they are and are not going to do. No, my children were eager to see who would participate in #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay. And lucky for me, they were surrounded by classmates and friends of like faith. No wonder Psalm 127:5 says “blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them.” Children keep you sharp in your faith.
MY CHILDREN, YOUR CHILDREN, ALL CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE
Our nation should pay close attention, these warriors won’t back down from a challenge, campaign or conquest. The future is theirs and you better know that they plan to LIVE IT WELL! Today, they are shining their light in school hallways, tomorrow on Capital Hill.
Did you know about #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay and did you and your family participate? Share it with us in the comments.
I have a story to tell. For many years now, I have imagined the idea of a writing career. I have done research here and there but I had not moved on anything. Just this past June, I decided to start this blog, Notes and Conversation. Even the title of …
In a land far away, a young ruler named Follow was living a good life. He was popular and had great wealth. He was strong and healthy, his family and servants cared for him well. In Follow’s world, it seemed there was nothing more to want. Follow was a good son, obedient to what his parents and advisers told him to do all his life. As a young prince, he had been taught well the ways and traditions of the land. He was intelligent and had reached each milestone expected of him according to his development as a wise man. But Follow lacked one very important lesson in life. Though his family were generous people and gave to many needful projects and causes, Follow was ignorant to social activism. As the only heir to this Father’s throne, he was highly protected and confined. Some of his friends spent days on great missions and returned to the land with trophies of accomplishment and high respect for their humanitarianism. Follow longed for that level of human engagement. He prayed and asked his father to bestow on him just one opportunity to travel beyond their land to distribute unto the poor. His father saw the hunger in the young man’s eyes and could not deny him his petition and so he sent him on his quest.
For months, Follow led a life much different from the kingdom privilege that he had known. It was difficult at first to adjust to the threatening livelihood of the people in the poor country. But the more time Follow spent with them, the more he wanted to save them. And he wasn’t at all anxious to leave.
One day in the country, a young lady was working in the river to catch fish and Follow took notice of her. He laughed to himself as she fell repeatedly in the mud after dropping her slippery prey and diving to retrieve it. Fishing was hard but she seemed not to mind. She was engrossed in her day’s work. She never took notice of Follow standing nearby on the riverbank gathering reeds. Each day after, Follow returned to the same spot along the river in hopes to see her again. He gathered the nerve to ask her if she would allow him to assist her in gathering the fish. Shy and ashamed of her muddy appearance before the disguised prince, she agreed to accept his help and told him her name, Love. Many days passed that Follow met the girl at the riverbed day after day after day. She rarely said a word as he spoke of nature and how beautiful it was and how he so enjoyed the days in her country. Some days it rained and they continued in their work never seeming to mind the downpour. At the end of a work day, Follow turned to the lady and pulled the dangling, muddy strains of hair from her face and tucked them gently behind her ears. He lifted her chin up to his gaze and gently whispered, “what shall a man do to spend life with you?”. She looked squarely in his eyes and replied, “he needs to give all of himself to LOVE.” She took his hand and place it on her heart and cupped it under her hand. Follow smiled and took her hand and kissed the center of her palm. Knowing his time was ending with the young lady and the people he had come to adore, he said to her, “I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you love Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because my Father is greater than I.” He left her there in the river. He knew what he needed to do.
Follow returned to his land and to his parents. The countrymen were eager to know where the young prince had been and what he had done. But Follow was eager to talk to his father. He asked for a private meeting and told him of his journey. When he finished his story of his time with the young lady, his Father had only one question. “What do you want to do son?” Follow grabbed his father’s hands and cupped them in his own. “Father,” he said, “I left my throne here in this kingdom and I found LOVE. I denied myself for LOVE. I have come to prepare a place for LOVE for where I am there she may be also.”
The young ruler’s time away was expected to mature him socially. But this was astonishing news. His Father was delighted that Follow didn’t return home disappointed and was overjoyed to hear Follow’s plans. The ruler of the land understood that Follow could never be a leader of people without first giving himself to love. Wonderful things happened in life because of Follow and Love. Follow and Love married and had Flow.
As the rich young ruler learned in the Biblical parable of Luke 18, Follow discovered that he left the things of the kingdom for his own sake. You leave not the things of the kingdom for kingdom’s sake, you leave your possessions for your own sake that you may possess more and life everlasting. That’s LOVE!
Following is a faith thing. Anything that requires faith, requires love to keep focus on the right things.
Follow.gif by Ben Stafford
What does love have to do with how and who you follow? Share it with us in the comments.
I have a new like. It is not a love yet but I am beginning to like it very much. I like Twitter.
You see I only joined Twitter a few months ago. I joined the same time that I started this blog. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time in order to build a following. I am learning along the way. Initially, I only had about a dozen individuals and organizations that I follow on Twitter. And although I had chosen to follow them, I wasn’t really paying attention to their Twitter feeds. Many of those I chose were selected because “I like them.” Last week, I joined the Twitter following of a role model of mine and I was skimming her page when I discovered a mystery. (Let’s see if you can figure out who I am talking about?) She is one of my most beloved women in leadership. Her Twitter profile description simply says “Just a girl…with a sword.” She has over 229K followers on her personal Twitter account and goes beyond with additional followers on her ministry account. Yet, she only has 60 people that she follows. As I browsed the people and organizations in her list, it was a very telling experience. I would assume (though I may be wrong) that she only chose to follow people closest to her for those people in the Covenant 60 listing are family members, like-minded leaders in ministry and her favorite influencers/artists. I wanted to Tweet her right away and ask “Why only 60?”
Girl with a sword’s Twitter page reminded me of a teleseminar I attended a little while back with The Christian Mompreneur Network. Theresa Ceniccola advised the participants of that seminar to narrow your focus. She said, “if you are listening to too many influencers, delete or unsubscribe.” That was a key point in her message that day on Promises, Prayers and Practical Steps: How to Build a Business While Raising a Family. What really struck me is that she offered each listener to “drop her” as an influencer if you didn’t feel that she was resonating with you and who God was using to help. That was a humble and significant action step I thought Theresa shared that day. And while I didn’t stick with her advice of only three influencers, I did delete some people and subscriptions out of my inbox that week because I realized that there is truth to “having too many people in our ears.” Theresa’s advice was so meaningful to me because it helped me realize the intent of following isn’t just about “liking” or “connecting” as it appears in social media. Social media has made following more about how many tags or rather tag-a-longs we can collect. We need to reorient the act of following back to its definition and that is to pursue after, come after what or someone who proceeds you; accept the guidance, command, or leadership of. Following also means to be guided by and move along the path of something or someone gone ahead of you. The word “pursuit” really speaks to me because I truly believe that you should pursue what you love. With that in mind, I have adjusted my followership to people, organizations or causes that I love.
I have chosen to apply the Covenant 60 rule to my Twitter page. I am currently about half-way there. I invite you to visit my Twitter page today. As you browse through this small list of people and organizations I follow, you would learn about the music I love, that I am a student of leadership, I am up to date on local news, I advocate and root for family, education and female role models in ministry and I have friends.
As you read this blog post, please know that I am NOT judging your management style or use of Twitter. Rather, I want you to take to heart the art of your pursuit. The celebrity world is changing our mindset about followership. Followership is defined as the reciprocal social process of leadership. But we need to rid ourselves of the idea that you have to work to grow the number of people in that circle of reciprocity. It is a covenant ring and you should use wise judgement in who you choose to invite inside the circle.
Are there any tips you have to choosing who to follow? Share it with us in the comments.
On September 3rd, my husband and I will celebrate another anniversary. This morning when we were praying together before he departed for work, I felt a need to set my focus on the year ahead rather than on the year we are about to celebrate. We haven’t done that before.
Anniversaries essentially celebrate that we completed another year. It is like patting each other on the back and saying “we made it”. Thinking about it now, I can recall a few of those years back that those pats on the back were accompanied by rolling eyes. It hasn’t always been a joy to say, “we made it to the end of the year.” When we made it to a decade, I couldn’t really say I was in the mood for celebrating though that was supposed to be a major milestone. People put different emphasis on the meaning of the years of a marriage whether it is year 1, 5, 10 or 50. I rather not dwell on the significance of the meaning of the number itself but rather what that meaning represents in the lives of the couple who are celebrating those years of longevity. We will commemorate the end of year 11 at the same time we are approaching the beginning of year 12.
As we prayed this morning, I thought about the season that we have been going through. In one word, I would call it PRESS. On SEP 3rd, 2015, we celebrated our anniversary with a trip, without the children (Thank you Mom), to the Shenandoah Valley. We had a great time. The morning of our anniversary last year, we got up and prayed together. During that time of prayer, I remember repeating the words of Genesis 1:28. These words God spoke to Adam and Eve on the day of their wedding, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” I declared to my husband on that day that we would hearken to the voice of God and we would multiply and we would both have dominion because Our Father has blessed us to do so. I understood in that moment that God’s multiplication doesn’t just concern more human seed. God’s multiplication means “to sow” in the earth and produce. I have come to understand that such a profound declaration brought about the press but it also brought about fruit.
Here is what we experienced in the past year from SEP 2015 until NOW as a result of THE PRESS
- Our backyard garden increased both in the fall and summer crops abundantly so that we were able to share with family and friends (which is what we had prayed).
- My husband received a pay increase and two occupational recognitions for his service.
- Our vehicle loan was paid off and we are driving two debt free automobiles.
- I was blessed with the job I prayed for which increased income into our home.
- We birthed Notes and Conversation for writing and community building using the resources and gifts we have been blessed with from God.
- Many more blessings…
Oh but the PRESS also brought warfare, struggle, and pain. I won’t list those for you. Just suffice to say that tears have been a constant reminder of the discomfort of the PRESS.
Recently the PRESS has become really intense. But we have discerned what YEAR 12 means for us. The breastplate garment for the Hebrew priest represented judgement and decision. The breastplate was decorated with twelve stones for the 12 tribes of Israel and served as a reminder of the great decisions and responsibility the priests held in serving God before these 12 tribes, the people of God. I see this coming year is a great year of decision which will bring about transition and opportunity as we serve before the people of God. I declare, “WE RECEIVE IT”. From now on, I am looking forward. We may be celebrating YEAR 11 but my jubilation will be in anticipation of YEAR 12. Can’t wait to celebrate the halfiversary of YEAR 12 in MAR 2017. (I learned the word halfiversary from watching the PBS Channel show Odd Squad with the children.) There is a blessing in the pressing!
Happy Anniversary to Tyrone and QuaWanna Bannarbie. Here’s to more celebrations to come!
How about you, what was your last anniversary year like? Share it with us in the comments.
I was having a conversation with a dear friend about balance last night and she said to me, “I don’t use that word” and I laughed loudly. We laughed together. Finally, someone else besides me hates to hear the word. But better than the fact that Natasha doesn’t use the word is that she gave me a replacement that made a whole lot of sense and better explained the present lack in my life. I was being told that I lacked balance. But what is actually missing in my life right now is a systematic rhythm.
Imagine that, a black girl from Southern Georgia who has lost her rhythm.
Hard to believe I know, but it is absolutely true.
Natasha and I talked about several different examples in the Bible such as Moses, Paul and Jesus who don’t display a clear balance structure in their work but we can surely see a rhythm in their lives. You might be wondering the difference between balance and rhythm. Some people actually use these terms interchangeably which I think can be a great misfortune of daily living.
Balance is a distribution of load so that steadiness is achieved. In order to maintain a steady, balanced condition implies that what we carry has to be proportionately equivalent to our capacity to hold it. This mindset keeps us lying to ourselves saying, “I can manage, I can manage” as we consistently pile more and more on our proverbial plates (or better stated, our scales) rather mismanaging our capacity. For the balancing act to be methodical and therefore achievable, it has to be strategic. If we admit it, we don’t think about a method until we have failed at managing the balance.
Rhythm, on the other hand, is systematic from the get go or it can’t be called rhythm. We rely on patterns and cadence. The beauty of rhythm is the longer the duration is maintained, the more comfortable you become with it. Unlike balance where the progression of weight distribution could eventually prove detrimental to us causing us to “tip over”. Progression of that steady succession of cadence becomes comfortable, regulated, uniform and even routine. Next thing you know you’re moving to the beat. You’re dancing and YOU LIKE HOW IT FEELS.
Routine …that is what I am going after. I don’t believe one can achieve a life’s order or comfortable routine chasing after balance. In fact, I wish people would stop using the phrase “work-life balance” because work and life will never be equal. Balance requires equivalence to be achieved. Now, I can see rhythm as making work, living and rest routine more attainable. Natasha, a former, competitive sprinter shared with me, when she ran hurdles at the U.S. Naval Academy she had a certain way she attacked that race and she still remembers that method to this day. In the same way, we learn and must adopt ways to attack our days, every day so that we are comfortable and not feeling the way I do now…offbeat!
So how do you achieve rhythm? Simply stated, you have to set a cadence, continue in succession and exercise it repeatedly. Get back to what was working and stick with it. Sticking is the integral part!
What that looks like for me:
Morning Routine (Devotion, Stretching, Water Intake and Breakfast)
Morning Work (Write, Chores, Volunteer and Attack My To-Dos)
Break (Lunch, More Water Intake, Walk and Short Nap)
Afternoon Work (Attack More To-Do List Items and More Water Intake)
Break (Play, Afterschool Time, DIYs and Personal Enjoyment)
Evening Work (Dinner Preparation, Homework and Chores)
Evening Entertainment (Dinner, Socializing, Fellowship and/or TV Time)
Evening Routine (Wind Down, Prayer, Read and Relaxing Music)
Natasha speaks a lot about learning to put into practice your spiritual disciplines. I am thankful to have had this conversation with her about rhythm. Because she checked me, I am now able to pass this learning on to you!
No more lost rhythm! QuaWanna is getting her groove back!
How about you? How will you attack your day today and tomorrow and the day after? Please share with us your spiritual disciplines and maybe you can help us get the rhythm. Let’s Dance.
As a teenager, I ran for school office. I always wanted the top positon of president or captain of the group. Young and ignorant back then, I thought if I allowed someone else to sit in a position above me then it meant that I believed that they could lead better than I or that I was afraid of leading. But today, I am not as quick to grab the top spot. I’ve learned what type of leader I am. I am a Joshua leader. I often tell those who are over me that if they just do their part as Moses then I can handle the Joshua role with no problem.
Moses, of the Bible’s Exodus story, was God’s mouth piece but Joshua was HIS executor. Joshua’s responsibility was to hear and pay attention to the instruction and then produce; carrying out the will of God with all his resource and potential. Joshua Leadership is representative of the words of Luke 16:11-12 which bears witness to a man being faithful to another man’s work so that he too can be given his own. Demonstration of Joshua’s leadership in bible study or character profiles often references the transition of power after Moses’ succession. This is mainly because we often see leadership as one head and then several branches in descending order and power. Yet, Joshua was leading even while Moses was head. Joshua, an undergird of Moses, empowered Moses’ leadership more than we give credit.
Joshua Leadership can be defined as the executor carrying out the administration of a vision such that production and expected ends are achieved. Here’s why Joshua’s executor position in leadership is vital to any Moses leading well.
Joshua demonstrated the following:
- Follow in close proximity – In order to undergird, a Joshua Leader has to be close to the chief leader and you must remain humble. Humility requires that you have close relationship with the Lord because our flesh often wants to compete. When you are humble, the head doesn’t fear your authority or position in relationship to his/her own. They welcome your closeness and realize the benefit in having the executor to carry forth the will in its practical sense at the same degree that it was visually imparted to the visionary or mouthpiece as in the case of Moses.
- Execute with thoughtful precision – A Joshua Leader considers the task carefully without being moved by adverse influence. He or she researches and surveys the environment. They are wise. Henry Bergson once stated, “Think like a man of action. Act like a man of thought”. This is an accurate description of Joshua. Joshua’s movements were the results of time of reflection and prayer. When he did execute, the events followed periods of wait and suspense demonstrating his carefulness in taking action.
- Exercise your faith – Joshua was close to Moses when he prayed in the tabernacle and he would remain even after Moses departed (Exodus 33:11). This is key because this meant that Joshua had his own relationship and recognized that his positon required more time with God intimately. A Joshua Leader cannot exercise the will of God without first exercising his faith in Him and doing that means to operate those activities of devotion, meditation, good works and recitation of God’s word outside of the time the leader has instructed or demonstrated.
- Serve with integrity – A Joshua leader has integrity that serves them well. The head knows the accuracy of his/her actions because he/she has proven dependable in the past and repeatedly demonstrates this level of integrity unwaveringly.
I serve a couple of organizations today in a Joshua Leader role. It is not an easy role to carry because the production of the vision takes a great deal of work. When I am speaking of Leadership LINKS, Inc.(www.leadershiplinksus.org), I like to say that our Board Chairman is the heart of the organization and I am the circulatory system. If I am not carrying it, the blood doesn’t get to the places where it is needed. I know that there is much power in the blood stream. Therefore, there is also a great deal of spiritual warfare involved in serving as a Joshua Leader. The devil has witnessed once before what a team of Moses and Joshua can do and so he wreaks havoc on these relationships today in churches, organizations, school, governments and marriages. But the key is knowing your role and being determined to be found faithful. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Joshua was such a leader. He proved himself and when succession was necessary, God made him ruler over the same people Moses has led.
I don’t desire the head position like I did as a high school girl and I tell you why. If I were in the position of Moses, I would want another QuaWanna to undergird me. So since I can’t serve myself, I would rather be Joshua to someone else.
Are you a faithful Joshua Leader? Leave a comment about which of the characteristics mentioned above can you attest to that have proven that you are in the right position?
I don’t shy away from telling my age. I wouldn’t say I am proud of my age but I never want it said that I wasn’t thankful for the life God gave me. I am thankful for my testistory (pronounced TEST-I-STORY). I have had tests and it is all part of MY STORY hence the reason the “I” is in the middle.
Today, I can truly say that I have been blessed. I have learned a few things along the way.
MY LIFE LESSON #1: GOTTA LOVE YOURSELF to LOVE LIVING.
I am so thankful Momma taught me how to love myself. She used to say that I was the most conceited young woman she knew. But I tell you for sure, I know my love of Nikki has helped me to stand. I truly believe that a strong love for who you are and who God made you to be, makes the difference in your attitude and pursuits in life.
MY LIFE LESSON#2: HEALTHY is HIDDEN.
I started gardening six years ago. While producing my own food has been substantially rewarding, it is what I have learned in the garden experience that has truly affected my perspective on life. We walk around just like seeds that go into the ground. On the outside, we look good, but what produces from the inside of that seed is really what we care about (or at least we should). Our spirit is hidden to everyone except our Heavenly Father. And if our spirit isn’t healthy, neither are we. Many people today are unhealthy because they are spiritually anemic (a phrase Pastor Harold McPherson uses often). Health is really a condition of your blood and spirit. I have learned that even blood relationships can be viciously unhealthy because of years and years of hidden sickness in our families. Just like those plants that grow from the seeds in my garden, the conditions that may cause them to yield plentiful, good fruit is what I have to work to maintain. Good nutrition, good sunlight, and water. A health coach once told me, “you have to watch what you put in you in order to stay fit”. What is in you is hidden to the world but you need to tend to it. When you do, you will be healthy.
MY LIFE LESSON#3: LOVE has a LOOK.
Some lessons grow on you and this one matured me this year. Because the Bible says that love endures (1 Corinthians 13:7), we think that love bears even the unbearable. Yes, broken hearts can be a part of God’s plan. But intentional harm is never a part of His plan. Mistreatment, malice, abuse, and deliberately inflicted wounds were bore on the cross of Calvary so that I DON’T HAVE TO TAKE IT. When you accept harm as a condition of love, your picture of love is distorted. The picture of love looks like an embrace, always, always, always. And love consoles even the broken-hearted.
MY LIFE LESSON#4: HISTORY and LIFE are two different things.
I learned to love history during summer school my junior year at the Naval Academy. For the first time, in my life, I felt connected to the place in which I was born because Mrs. Knutson taught American History to me that summer. For much of my life, I was thinking about my family’s history as a condition for which I based my decisions about living. I realize now how flawed I was in that thinking. History is past and life is present. If I constantly live my life, looking on the past mistakes of my ancestors, I live in their shadows. I will never carve out my own path because I am constantly trying to better theirs. I think that is an unfair weight for anyone to bear. History is good to know. But it is just a reference. It is not the road map. If you put your history in front of you to direct you, you will never find your way.
These lessons have helped me navigate my journey. They help me be a better wife, mother, and daughter. They help me to live my life. And ultimately in living my life, I pray my Heavenly Father is pleased.
Happy Birthday to Me.
Leave a note and share a life lesson with the birthday girl.
Do you remember STOP-DROP-ROLL? When Smokey The Bear comes on television and gives a fire safety instruction, you had better pay attention. You never know when you may need to use his STOP-DROP-ROLL method for extinguishing fire that has engulfed your clothing in flames. These words are said repeatedly during …