Offer Yourself Grace

I’m on a 21 Day Journey to Inner Healing. I’m determined in this study, to stay out of my head, to get into my heart, and stay there.  The head is a much easier place from which to live. But the head is not always kind to the heart or spirit. As I was journaling this morning, something bubbled up and I believed I needed to share it. We’ve been talking about the grace of God, that unmerited, unearned favor that is so freely given to us. God is gracious. God is merciful. But Donna is not always gracious, and certainly not always merciful (just ask my students who don’t do their homework on time).  I’m learning that God’s grace doesn’t always reach my inmost being because of my own stinginess with offering grace and mercy to myself! In short, instead of being loving and kind to God’s daughter, that would be me, I have, way too often, done the opposite.  It’s definitely something to make you go ‘hmmm.’

Anyway, I hope these musings will help someone and deliver them from the same inclination.

There IS something worse than being victimized by others. It is becoming a double victim by penalizing yourself for your response to the victimization. When a woman who is raped choses not to fight back,  she is STILL an unwilling participant in the violent act. To beat herself up because she did what she needed to do – in that moment – to survive is to inflict an even greater violence. The woman who sets aside her own emotional needs when her husband’s infidelity is discovered, who, if even from a place of inner woundedness, chooses to make herself emotionally present for him, the children or the ministry; the woman who chooses to pray for her husband and for the heifer – ok woman – with whom he had an affair,  actually PROTECTED herself in those moments. Yes, she was victimized… cruelly. Yet, if she spends the next ten years angry at herself for not choosing a different path, she is guilty of inflicting more violence on herself and at a much deeper level than anyone else can reach. The daughter whose alcoholic mother forces her to grow up much too soon is a victim. Spending her days caring for her siblings, cooking meals and hiding her mother’s drinking from her father may be the only choice the daughter believes is available to her – in that moment. To give herself over to self-hatred because of this makes it very difficult for the girl to grow into a healthy woman.

Before you allow your anger to be kindled against me for telling women it is okay to stay in dangerous situations, please hear what I’m really saying, underneath. Choices are not always black or white. Sometimes a person does what she believes she needs to do to survive emotionally or physically. Sometimes, her choice may not be the one people outside her situation will believe is right, and perhaps from an external perspective, they are right. But if her choices protect her from leaping off the nearest bridge, crawling into bed and not getting out, or inflicting damage on someone else, she shouldn’t compound the violence by punishing herself once the danger is mitigated.

God wants to and can heal us from the trauma of what others do to us. But before God can intervene in the inner healing, God needs for us to stop being judge and jury and sentencing ourselves to a life sentence of hidden pain. We must stop listening to the the inner voices that make us demean ourselves. It is so subtle at times that we might not even recognize what we are doing. You know what I mean. You have the internal conversation over and over – and you are never on the winning side. You call yourself names. You tell yourself you deserved every wrong thing that ever happened to you.  You slap yourself around because you ‘let’ someone rape you, you convince yourself that your actions forced your husband to have an affair, you goad yourself because you didn’t confront your mother about the ways she damaged your self esteem.  Instead of this cycle, hold the woman that you were in your arms and thank her for doing the best she could with the emotional resources available to her at that time. Tell her that her choices, even if they could have or even should have been different,  didn’t make her weak or stupid. It didn’t make her less than who God made her, a precious daughter. Stop blaming her for not donning her Wonder Woman cape and headband and kicking some butt or rolling some heads. Love her, respect her, allow God to reach her and heal her. Then together, you and God can decide where you need to go, what you need to do now. You will make your next decision with a comforted heart, an undivided mind and a spirit that is soothed by the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Offer yourself some grace.

It’s All About The Why Worksheet

Do you sometimes feel stuck in neutral, filled with dreams and longings but not quite sure how to get to them? Do you sometimes think your relationship with God is more perfunctory than from a deep place? Do you sense something in the atmosphere but aren’t quite sure how to interpret it or tap into what you see God doing in and through others?  If the answer to any of these questions is something like… maybe, um yes, Lawd YES then maybe it’s time for you to start thinking like Mama Odie, “you gotta dig a little deeper.”

We started a new series last week, Wide Awake that is so exciting. God doesn’t want us simply conscious. God wants us to have more LIFE in our lives. God desires that we would live life to the FULL – today, in the land of the living not just in some future, sweet by-and-by. Digging a little deeper may mean doing something you’ve never done before. It may mean doing familiar things in an unfamiliar way. It may mean returning to the the scene of your first love. No matter which, it will definitely mean identifying your hopes, dreams & vision and considering what you want to experience/do when you attain them. But between the hoping and experiencing, you have to visit the Chief cardiologist for a heart scan and possibly a heart transplant. It’s all about the Why.

The following worksheet was created to help you visualize that process.  Feel free to download the pdf by clicking the link below.

May God bless your journey!! Send me an email or a message on Facebook as you go through the process. I would love to hear from you and pray with you.
Rev. Donna

It's All About The Why WorksheetIt's All About The Why Worksheet2

Click this link: It’s All About The Why Worksheet updated

OMEA Presentations

Thank you for all of the folk who attended my two sessions at the Ohio Music Education Association Conference this past weekend. As promised, here are materials from the workshops.


OMEA music diversity1

Endangered species lyrics No Mirrors In Nana

OMEA presentationJubaDis che che koolay music

No Mirrors in My Nana’s House


Emmanuel Road

Choral version of Kamalondo – I am not endorsing this video; in fact, I have some issues with it that I won’t articulate here. However, the arrangement is free online and you could make it more authentic easily.

Sheet music download: Kamalondo

Endangered Species – Diane Reeves

Research for a new book, A Leader’s Song: Lyrics to Inspire, Nourish and Encourage The Soul

I am working on a new book, a collection of song lyrics that those in leadership, from mother to CEO, would find inspiring, nourishing or encouraging. To make this a really spectacular resource, I need YOUR assistance.

Please take a few minutes to complete a short survey.  There are only a few questions and your thoughtful, detailed responses will be greatly appreciated.

Click here to be taken to the survey.

Thank you so much for your time.


Who Will Take A Stand?

Friends, it is time to do what we all should have done before now: pray. Ferguson, Sanford, Beavercreek – all of the places where ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ has been the rule of the day – is not a white or black issue, this is an issue of the soul. The cancer in our nation that continually raises it’s head through racism has to be healed! The judicial system can’t fix it because it is broken. And the church is SILENT! And while the church avoids the issue or contributes to it, satan smiles. I’m reminded of Abraham negotiating with God about the people of Sodom. When the church is silent over the brokenness of our nation, when believers spend more time talking about the issues than they do pleading with God for healing, there is a serious problem. The answer is available.

IF My people, who are called by MY name, would humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from THEIR wicked ways, THEN will I hear from Heaven. I will forgive THEIR sins and HEAL THEIR LAND.

Healing starts with each if us!

I just want to throw up when I realize how polarized we have become. Well, I believe we have always been polarized and because we remain silent the enemy is no longer shy about revealing his hand. he is justified (lower case h is intentional). Now, more than ever it is time for the Church to BE the church- not the black church, not the white church, but God’s body, Jesus’ bride. We can talk history; we can talk sociology. Neither root has been nationally explored. The legacy of slavery is very REAL: both for the black folk who were taught they were nothing, who were treated like less than chattel and for white folk who were taught to fear what they didn’t understand. This is a national conversation that needs to be had. Having it may lead to understanding but it won’t necessarily lead to healing.

No, it’s time for POWER work, the prayers of the righteous that avail much. It’s time for the church to be concerned about every mother whose child is in the cold ground. It’s time to be concerned about the lack of HOPE that engenders a disdain for life. It’s time to stop seeing red and blue and start seeking the only one who can bring order to chaotic minds, hearts and spirits.

Who will join me? Who will BE the church?

In A Word… I’m Depressed

Robin Williams’ apparent suicide has many people thinking and talking about depression. But I wonder how many will own up to their own struggles. I’ve battled depression most of my adult life and very likely during my adolescence as well. I’ve never considered suicide but I have certainly believed that, if I were to die, no one would be too sad.  I clearly remember standing on a corner in Dublin, Ireland, crying as I waited to cross the street, when I had the thought that, if I were run over by a bus, not one person would care…. not my children, husband or friends. Everyone, I believed, would go on with their lives as if I had never existed. It wouldn’t be a big deal to my family since I was absent in most of the vacation photos (I was the camera woman). I believed it would be easy to replace me with someone else.  If I were a person prone to suicidal thoughts I may well have stepped off that curb that day. Instead, walking beside my family, I buried the thoughts and walked on. No one asked why I had tears in my eyes and I didn’t offer an explanation. Tears make people very uncomfortable because they REQUIRE a response of some sort. Tears unacknowledged make a depressed person feel even lower.

The church has been especially guilty of making conversations about depression taboo. People are shocked when a believer takes his or her life. The words ‘I never would have thought this person capable of doing this’ flow like oil.  Read comments about Robin Williams and you will see the same theme. If a person doesn’t jump back from disappointments, hurts, losses, they are often dismissed. What I do know is depression is not a sin; it is an illness, one very often misdiagnosed and rarely talked about. People are okay with telling others about their physical ailments but rarely do we tell people about struggles with our emotions and thoughts. So people with depression suffer in silence, often wearing bright smiles or being seemingly okay with people talking about them being ‘angry.’ We walk past each other and don’t SEE anyone else’s pains. Our children spend every waking hour connected to some kind of technology with 500 ‘friends’ and no one to talk to. People don’t know how to talk anymore. It’s a paradox; the more connected we are, the more disconnected we become.

Something must change if any of us is to survive and thrive. Entire generations are at risk.

In a word, I’m depressed. I KNOW God is a healer. I KNOW God loves me. Still, I’m sometimes depressed. Tell the truth, y’all.

I’m blessed by comedienne, Chonda Pierce’s story. Listen to her, enjoy a laugh, then think of someone who may need a call.

Chonda Pierce

One of Life’s Roller coasters

For the past eight years my siblings in the DC area have been closely traversing the rocky road of terminal illness with our Mother. They have done a yeoman’s job caring for her through experimental treatments, a variety of medical plans and a host of doctors. The past year has been more down than up and the past six months have been totally crazy. Since January I have been to DC four times, each time thinking she was at the end. Our Mother was the poster child for mind over matter. I’ve never known anyone as strong-minded (stubborn) and determined to be in control of her life.

I’ve been using “roller coaster’ as a metaphor for the family’s journey with Mother and I believe it is accurate. Like a roller coaster ride, there have been high highs and low lows. Things have moved quickly and things have chugged bumpily along. And just Imagelike the roller coaster, when the ride comes to a very abrupt stop, there is a sense of disorientation. The ground feels unsteady. The stomach may feel queasy and the heart still skipping a few beats.

The past five days are a microcosm of the past six months. Friday morning, after finding that Mother had fallen during the night, my sister called 911 and she was carried to the hospital. Within the day we were told what we already suspected – Mother was terminal and death was imminent. She would need to go back into hospice (this would be the third admittance – the first one she discharged herself). On Saturday, we had multiple discussions with the medical staff and struggled with when to have the medicines that were helping her body function, turned off. She was alert off and on, understanding when we told her that she was very ill and that the doctors didn’t think she would make it. ‘What’s new?’ she wanted to know. She was okay with being in hospice — after she went home first. On Sunday, Mother was alert and complaining about being bored, asking if she were expected to just lay in the bed. We wondered if we had made the right decision and if she planned to prove the doctors wrong with yet another come-back. By Sunday night the next ICU doctor had information that conflicted with what we had been told the day before. On Monday, Mother was less aware of who was in the room with her. She had conversations with folk who were long dead in between sleeping fitfully. By Tuesday she was agitated, calling Grandma, having conversations with Daddy (complete with rolled eyes). She greeted me with a ‘hi baby’ when I came in but after that she didn’t know I was there. She was clearly in another place or on her way. It took much longer than we anticipated but she was moved to a hospital hospice space in the afternoon. This morning, without much ado and with none of us standing over her, Mother slipped away, the conclusion to a five-day roller coaster ride or the culmination of an eight-year ride.

It’s easy to think that those of us who know the Lord would be (should be?)  exempt from suffering or watching those we love do so. However, believers aren’t exempt from the swirl of emotions that riding a roller coaster brings. Despite knowing God is the driver around every curve, over every hill and during every breath-taking drop, believers do not get a free pass from experiencing strong feelings after the ride is over.

When the ride comes to a conclusion, you still need to find your footing and that can be difficult. This applies to every person regardless to whether you are riding with someone for whom the trip is final or if you are there as support.  ImageUltimately, death is a solo flight. When the ride stops, both the passenger on the Eternity Coaster and those waiting at the station, must know where they will find themselves: on solid or shaky ground and with God or not. Don’t take a chance. Know for sure.

RIP Claire. I love you and thank God for you.


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