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.

Love is a Decision

Watching my oldest move closer to the date when he will truly ‘leave his parents’ and begin the lifelong process of ‘cleaving’ to his wife, I find myself thinking more and more about love. This word, like many, has become one we toss glibly about: we love chocolate, we love Scandal, we love the flowers growing in our garden, we love pecan sweet potato pie (can I get an amen!) – the list goes on. But do we really love these things? And if we do, are they able to love us back? And if they weren’t able to love us back, should that make a difference to the quality of and our commitment to love?  Of course, these questions do not really apply to chocolate or pie especially since their brand of ‘love’ leaves them clinging to thighs, abs and chins and refusing to let go. That’s probably not a healthy love. But these are questions we must ask about genuine love relationships.

I have prayed long that my children would marry people who loved God with all of their hearts and souls, people who treasured, respected and honored my son and daughter. I’ve also prayed that whomever our children married would be folded into our family, without all of the negative drama so prevalent and normalized in our society. And my prayer has not been only for the future spouses but that our families would mesh, that we would love each other, be great friends and supports. In my vision, our families would merge so tightly that we provided a safe harbor in which these new family branches could grow and bear fruit.

This is the prayer of a person for whom family is very important, the prayer of a person for whom love has often seemed more like something captured in a colander than a bowl. At times I’ve watched love slip through the holes and wondered what happened. Sometimes I have carelessly pressed it through those holes. I’ve also floated in it, riding the gentle swells. confident in the ability of the container to hold true. And still I believe… I seek… I desire to love and be loved.

Over the years I’ve learned something very important about love. It’s not the overwhelming, mushy feeling of the movies and romance novels. Love is much more than that. Our emotions are fickle, contrary and very often totally and deliberately deceitful. Strong, mushy feelings are important. Who hasn’t loved so much that you wondered if your chest could contain all of the feelings! But emotions are really only a fraction of the story. Love is a decision we make and purpose in our hearts to act upon. In the traditional wedding ceremony, the officiant asks the bride and groom if they promise to love, not, do you love this person already but do you promise to love through whatever life throws your way. That implies making a conscious and continuing decision!!

I’m rejoicing because in a few short months I’m going to have a truly wonderful daughter-in-love. I already adore her. Yet, the truth is, we don’t fully know each other right now and that’s okay. We have a lifetime to get to know each other. It will take time for the seeds being planted now to take root and blossom. That’s the future. In the present, I know enough to be willing to choose to love her. I know she loves my son. I know she loves God. I know she loves her family and I know she is willing to love ours. So, I deliberately make the choice to love this young woman. I make a conscious choice to make room in my heart for her and for the rest of those she loves. I choose to love her now and I’m going to love her as long as we both shall live. If that sounds like the wedding vow it’s because it is. When two people marry, they join FAMILIES! There really is no such thing as marriage between two people. Other cultures have a better understanding of this concept than Americans and it’s time we do a better job of comprehending.

Choosing to love is not always easy; sometimes it would seem simpler just to walk away or turn your back. Love is risky business at the best of times because we are flawed individuals. Because we are, it is inevitable that we hurt each other, that we step on toes by mistake, that we get so caught up in our own stuff that we are negligent or careless with others. Yes, deciding to love is risky but the rewards are tremendous. You and I are recipients of deliberate love. God’s love for a deadbeat, hard-headed, recalcitrant humanity (that would be you and me in case you missed it) was so deep that God made a decision that would cost Jesus His life. God did that for us, not because we deserved it but because God loved.  This is how Vanessa Bell Armstrong’s song, For God So Loved The World, puts it:

God could have chosento never love again,
fallen man could go his wayand die in his sin.
But God in His compassion said,“I’ll pay redemption’s price”,
so He took on the form of man and became the perfect sacrifice.

That’s the image of love, personal sacrifice, a decision to love when you don’t feel like it, when the other person gets on your nerves, when you feel misunderstood…. even when your heart is broken. Love is a decision. What is your choice?DSC05979

This photo was taken after Mom and Dad Cox celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. This is one of my favorite images of sacrificial love!


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