Great Families Inherit Work

It is another day and another laundry list of to-dos.

You wake up every single day and the list just gets longer. If I can be honest, I admit that at times I get upset when I start to think about how much there is to do each day. Recently though, I had a real “come to Jesus moment.” All my murmuring and complaining about work landed inside the ears of the wrong persons…my children. My daughter actually said that she didn’t desire to do the work that I do because “that is all Mommy does and she is always mad.” Wow, that really hurt. I realized that I was not being a good example of what it means “to work unto the Lord.” As a result, I could be shaping my heirs to desire little or no labor at all. Such desires will ruin their inheritance. Working is a part of their inheritance.

If you think of inheritance as only spiritual, financial, material, or physical then you are missing a very important aspect of the process of posterity. Endowments, good health, heirlooms, and integrity will certainly pass on to the next generation. Yet, you also need to know that the work involved to receive and preserve these items is also carried forward.  The children of families that desire for these benefits to continue will receive the mantle of MORE WORK. Think about the patriarchs of the Bible and the prominent families in your culture. King David. President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Princess Diana, and Rev. Billy Graham. Look at their offspring today. What are they doing? Working. Continue reading

Real Ways to Engage without Facebook Live

Have you noticed how much “live streaming” is dreadfully disturbing? It is becoming addictive just like Candy Crush. People seem to be hooked on this stimulant that is screaming “watch me, watch me”.

via GIPHY

I will admit that I was attracted to that LIVE LIFE for a while (although I haven’t streamed anything live myself).  Each time I saw a friend “go live”, I was immediately there to check out what they had going on.  But this past week, I realized this “live buzz” is killing us and we need to get back to some real effective ways to engage with people via our social networks without suddenly becoming a witness to a crime. (It really is that serious.)

Social media has its bad points but I believe if we use it socially as it was meant to be used, we can make better use of its good qualities.  Think about how much you scroll through your accounts during the day.  No one has time to read everything posted and truly some of us need to let go of a few subscriptions (but that is a conversation for another time).  However, for the things that we do read, what would happen if you took a moment just to let the content creator know that you were hooked in the scroll?  Just stop to say “keep it coming guy, I liked this!”

Every family has that member that spends their life on social media.

Well, why don’t you employ that auntie to help you out with your reach and expansion?  Ask Aunt Jen to share your content, every time you share your content.  Then tell Aunt Jen to make a comment that says something like “My Niece is Doing Great Work.” Her engagement on your post is going to get others engaged.  If Aunt Jen can share Bishop Jakes sermons and she is not his auntie, why shouldn’t she share your goods? Support is best understood when people give of their resources to another person’s work.  Family members are good encouragers in words. They can be good encouragers in deeds too. 

Speaking of encouragement.  How many times have you read a post on Twitter and loved it but kept scrolling? YES? Well, shame on you.  We are too focused on getting rather than giving.  If the content blessed you, let the content creator know it and encourage them to continue.  We have got to encourage each other more.  I recently joined the 500 word challenge with Jeff Goins.  I have scrolled through a few of the other sites in the challenge and I have taken Jeff’s advice to say hello on the blogger’s site. I haven’t been blogging that long but I know it must make anyone feel great to know that their words reached another human being. I know there is power in my engagement so I don’t mind giving a little bit here and there. Own your power and use it to lift others.

Several people I know are on a path of something new at the start of 2017. 

You all know it is hard to keep the momentum going after January 15th has come and gone and certainly after February 1st arrives.  So, do this for me.  For every person in your life that you know is doing something new, challenging and exciting, text them and let them know you are looking forward to the next thing.  People want to deliver when they know that you are looking for something from them.  So encourage them to keep it going.  Don’t let them give up on whatever it is that they are working on.  Your encouragement keeps them engaged in whatever they have purposed to accomplish this year.  You’re helping them see it through.

Lastly, take the time to encourage those people in your life that serve you.  Recently, my bus driver texted me that my daughter had gotten into a bit of trouble on the bus.  I have told the driver many times that she is free to contact me if she ever has trouble out of my children.  She took me up on my offer.  I responded to her compliance with a hearty thank you and encouraged her to stay safe on the roadways.  Her response, “Thank you. I will.”  Everyone can appreciate encouragement.  Encouragement is the ultimate power of engagement and we have it at our finger tips with these mobile devices. You don’t need to be in someone’s personal space to be engaged.  Invite yourself in by merely saying “I SEE YOUR HUSTLE. KEEP FLEXING YOUR MUSCLE.”  Engagement is a super power.  Don’t give all yours away to live streaming.

Now that I have your attention…

Pastor Andrew Brown, assistant Pastor of Covenant Community Church, shared a revealing word this past Sunday that I will not soon forget.  His text for the sermon was from the well-known story of Moses and the burning bush in the book of Exodus.  “God will use what already has your attention to get your attention”, he said.  Pastor Brown shared how he had questions about the burning bush and how peculiar a choice this “attention grabber” was for God.  Surely, God could have chosen anything.  I thought, “if that already had the attention of Moses then how?”  Sitting among the congregation, I realized it wasn’t so much the bush as it was what had Moses’ attention. The bush just happened to be in the area of Moses’ attention.  Moses had consumed himself with the job of a sheep herder probably thinking he had avoided his past.  In fact, he was wandering carefree in the back of the desert when he stumbled upon this bush.  I would venture to say that God realized it was time to let Moses know he couldn’t avoid HIM any longer.  I believe God used the bush because Moses’ occupation had his attention.  I could relate to Moses in that moment Pastor Brown explained the choice of the bush.  I briefly took a job as a tax preparer when I left the U.S. Navy.  It was okay work.  My husband was deployed, our oldest child was less than two years old and I thought this was a good idea.  I found out that God didn’t think it was a good idea.  For three years in a row, something happened as a result of me taking that job.  It affected me and my family adversely.  The first year I was there, they got rid of all first year tax professionals within the first three weeks of the tax season.  I still went back the next year.  Then, co-workers had accidents that caused me to take longer shifts.  The kicker was when my young son of 8 months got sick at daycare and had to be hospitalized.  He had swallowed a coin and it had to be surgically removed.  I put him in home-based care after the ordeal and that didn’t work out either.  So, I finally left the job.  In my over-occupation with what was not the will of God for my life, my family suffered.  Looking back on it now, I assess that getting my attention wasn’t really my problem.  It was difficult to keep my attention because what I wanted become more important than what God wanted for me.

But God has a way of using things that will keep your attention.

I woke up yesterday morning to learn that the country had elected Donald J. Trump to the office of President and I knew immediately that the President-Elect is “the burning bush” but there is not the voice of God coming out of this one.  This burning bush represents the government of which we have taken such an extreme interest. It reminds me of the story of 1 Samuel 8 when the prophet Samuel went to God on the behalf of the people who asked for a king to rule over them.  Although Samuel had reminded them that, as God’s people, they had God and therefore no need for a king to fight for them.  The people had their eyes on the things of other nations and not the things of God.  They replaced God with worldly occupation.  God gave them exactly what they wanted but he used that very king to keep their attention.  I submit to you that since that day, government has represented the replacement of God with worldly occupation.  No matter how much we put IN GOD WE TRUST on our money or our courthouses.  History has repeatedly proven how people replace the things of God with the things of the world.  Our recent national history repeatedly shows how God uses that very thing you replaced Him with to keep your attention.  It will be with Donald J. Trump.  It has been with Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama.  I strongly believe it would have been no different with Al Gore, John McCain, or Mitt Romney.  And yes, it would have been no different with Hillary Clinton.  Sadly though, we haven’t realized it yet.  But thanks to Pastor Brown, I can say I see it now Lord.  I can say this now because I voted in every last one of these past elections and I couldn’t understand how in each one the decision became more and more difficult and less appealing.  But I do now.  You have my attention now God.  In fact, you have the attention of the whole world. The world is watching the United States of America.

Moses asks the question in Exodus 3:3 “How is it that this bush does not burn?”  Moses turned aside toward the bush and then God spoke to Him.  It is time to turn America.  There is a burning bush blazing in a great flame right now.  I recommend we give God our undivided attention.  What is important to God must become important to us.  Be careful that we are not consumed.

We are approaching a pivotal year.

Heart with our InitialsOn 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!

Anniversary PoemHappy 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.

Are you suffering from Rhythm Loss?

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.

Black Girl Dancing

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.

Let's Dance