Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Be the Bridge (book review)


Roseanna M. White's Review of Latasha Morrison's book, 
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

There is a racial divide in this nation—that’s beyond dispute. There are sides that fail to see each other’s point of view. Frankly, there are even those who don’t realize there is another point of view. But if we’re going to learn one thing from the past, it should perhaps be this: the Church cannot achieve unity, understanding, and Jesus Christ’s vision for us if we fail to love one another and grant each other the right to perceive, understand, and experience life in the way He made each of us to do. So then the question is clear. How do we come together?

In Be the Bridge, Latasha Morrison examines this question with love, grace, and a clear desire to help each of us not just reach out across the divide, but to be a bridge that lets others walk toward understanding. Throughout the book, she sheds light on some history that is never spoken of in White circles, but which we need to know about. She takes readers, no matter their ethnicity, through the invention of race and how our society has been stacked to give advantage to the majority White culture. She helps us to understand not only how our nation has arrived at this place, but how we—whether we’re White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or any other background—have either knowingly or unwittingly participated in this system.

But she doesn’t stop with education. Morrison then takes that crucial next step and walks us through what to do about it—not on national, government levels, but individually. She explains what we as individuals can do to acknowledge the past, heal the present, and change the future.

I think the thing that most impressed me about this book wasn’t just the loving approach, the patient explanations, or the fair-minded advice; it’s the fact that she’s put wheels on her words. There are Be the Bridge groups in every state, not started by the author, but simply organized by like-minded people like you and me. People who don’t pretend to have all the answers but who just want to listen. Who want to learn what life is like for others. Who want to love their neighbors, even when that means going out of our way—because shouldn’t it always mean that?

Be the Bridge
is already a bestseller, so many of you have probably already heard about it and read it yourself. It’s my prayer that many more do the same, and that it leads to more conversations, more open eyes, and more open hearts. It’s my prayer that more Be the Bridge groups spring up around this country, and that the Church can lead the way toward racial reconciliation by our sheer, overpowering love for each other and those around us.

Let’s not be content to stand on one side of the divide and look across to those on the other side. 

Let’s be the bridge to true unity.

~*~
Author Bio:
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. 

When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books … to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

~*~
Connect with Roseanna:
Blog: https://roseannamwhite.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoseannaMWhite/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/roseannamwhite/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roseannamwhite/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoseannaMWhite
Website: https://www.roseannamwhite.com

~*~
Blurb for Latasha Morrison's book 
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ECPA BESTSELLER • “When it comes to the intersection of race, privilege, justice, and the church, Tasha is without question my best teacher. Be the Bridge is THE tool I wish to put in every set of hands.”
—Jen Hatmaker 

Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award • A leading advocate for racial reconciliation calls Christians to move toward deeper understanding in the midst of a divisive culture.


In an era where we seem to be increasingly divided along racial lines, many are hesitant to step into the gap, fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. At times the silence, particularly within the church, seems deafening.

But change begins with an honest conversation among a group of Christians willing to give a voice to unspoken hurts, hidden fears, and mounting tensions. These ongoing dialogues have formed the foundation of a global movement called Be the Bridge—a nonprofit organization whose goal is to equip the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division.

In this perspective-shifting book, founder Latasha Morrison shows how you can participate in this incredible work and replicate it in your own community. With conviction and grace, she examines the historical complexities of racism. She expertly applies biblical principles, such as lamentation, confession, and forgiveness, to lay the framework for restoration.

Along with prayers, discussion questions, and other resources to enhance group engagement, Be the Bridge presents a compelling vision of what it means for every follower of Jesus to become a bridge builder—committed to pursuing justice and racial unity in light of the gospel.

~*~
Author Bio: 

LATASHA MORRISON is a bridge-builder, reconciler, and a compelling voice in the fight for racial justice. In 2016, she founded Be the Bridge, a non-profit organization equipping more than 1,000 sub-groups across five countries to serve as ambassadors of racial reconciliation. 


Numerous organizations have recognized her as a leading social justice advocate, including Facebook's Community Leadership Program, Forbes, and EBONY magazine. A native of North Carolina, Tasha earned degrees in human development and business leadership. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: A Letter to White Christians from a hurting heart


A Letter to White Christians
A guest post by Rev. Dr. Angelle M. Jones, DMin

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8 (NIV)

Dear White Christians,

To my sisters and brothers with whom I worship each week, I greet you. In the name of the One who has shown us through His Word, not only what is good, but also what the Lord requires of you. It is in this mighty name of Jesus, the One in whom you confess that we the people, all people, are created in the imago Dei.

I bring you greetings from your African-American brothers and sisters whose ancestors were stripped from their homeland. The slave catchers and traitors worked together devising a plan to accost free labor to build this great and free land.

To this end, some four hundred years ago the slaves who were unwillingly brought to this country, were envisioned only through the lens of the economic advancement of your forefathers. Instead of seeing my ancestral captives as fellow human beings, the slave masters were greed-filled opportunist in pursuit of financial gain. This devious plan originally designed to keep my ancestors shackled for generations to come, has been successful. Hundreds of years later, the same capitalistic structures continue to keep the descendants of slaves systemically and economically bound. In light of this historical truth, I ask you my brothers and sisters what exactly did the faith of your ancestors require for them to be considered good?

From the depths of my heart I painfully write this letter, sadly conflicted by the afflictions of my ancestors who worshipped in the hush harbors of Antebellum slave churches. In centuries past, slaves would meet in secluded buildings, or wooded areas far away from the plantation to secretly worship away from the master’s hearing or reach. Even more so, I write this letter with a heart that’s doubtful that much has changed.

Whether worshipping in hidden hush harbors or in churches under the tutelage of white slave masters in generations past, or in twenty-first century multicultural churches, Black worshippers in America have had to fight for the freedom to worship in our own way. Unfortunately, even in today’s sacred spaces, assimilation continues to be the preferred way to achieve diversity. Because a large number of so-called “multicultural” churches are led by White pastors and staff, we continue to adapt to your preferred style of preaching, prayer, or music.

With these truths in mind, I write in behalf of the thousands of Black brothers and sisters, who have supported multicultural churches, with their sweat equity, in the name of ministry. I speak directly to those pastors who after preaching the Holy Writ each Sunday, in the same manner that slave masters treated slaves, seemingly, many of you cannot find the words to say thank you.

Often ignoring the Black members who encourage you with a gospel style of worship that you say you love, or a hearty black church “Hallelujah” or “Amen” to support your preaching.

Although our different hues of brown skin glare at you from the choir stand, or the pew, it pains us when you descend from your lofty pulpit, and we are ignored. Just as the slaves had no real place except in the field and were at the beckoning of their master, in the same way Blacks in your churches are often locked out of your social circles. Rarely, are we invited to the table or to serve on your church staff. Sadly, we have learned the art of normalizing the pain of rejection just as we do in secular contexts, although it is real and has caused us to scatter. I ask you my White Christian brothers and sisters, is this all your faith requires of you today?

As I compare some of your oppressive ways to that of a slave master, I’m certain most of you, will emphatically disagree. I challenge you as Christ followers, and leaders in the church to consider what is good. Just as your Christian forefathers were complicit when my enslaved ancestors were brought to laboriously build this nation, it is with that very same mentality that some of you turn a blind eye as Black congregants build your church edifices with their giving today. The burden I bear in behalf of my Black and Brown brothers and sisters in many of your sacred spaces is both painful and traumatic. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, in the eyes of many of your African-American members, it remains true that the oppressive mindset of Christian slave masters of yesterday, continue to rule in multicultural churches today.

While entering into diverse places of worship, having been bombarded the week before with images of brutal killings of Black bodies by White police, what will it take for you to see that seated right next to you, your brothers and sisters are embodying the pain of watching those who look like them needlessly die?

Sadly, in churches all over America, during the most segregated hour of the week, White masters (pastors), preach messages defending this great country and its iconic flag, while the world watches melanin skinned bodies annihilated right before their eyes.

Once again, I ask, what does it mean for you who uphold this country as great, to act justly and to show mercy toward the oppressed?

My brothers and sisters, may this serve as a reminder of what the Lord says He requires. It is time to acknowledge the ills of America’s past justly, while embracing our present pain mercifully.

May we allow the recent events, as we are moved by the current of The Holy Spirit, and cause the Church to walk humbly with one another and with our God. May we usher in a revolution of His Kingdom, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

God bless you.

Sincerely, your sister-in-Christ,
Rev. Dr. Angelle M. Jones, DMin

~*~
Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 


Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: A Call to Repentance


Shared Responsibility and Repentance
A devotional by Stephanie Bankhead

“I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” 
– Daniel 9:4-5 (ESV)

My ancestors emigrated from Italy to the United States. I am a fourth generation American on both sides of my family. They earned a living farming in northeastern Colorado. 

My ancestors knew what it was like to be the brunt of prejudice. In the early 1900’s it was not unusual for Italians to hear mocking ethnic slurs like "wop" and "dago." To my knowledge, we never owned slaves.

Blindly, I believed that I had nothing to apologize for relating to racial tension. My relatives didn't take part in the Atlantic slave trade nor the owning of slaves. Why should I apologize? 

Recently I was reading the book of Deuteronomy. In chapter 31, Moses is telling the people that he knows how rebellious and stubborn they are. Reading that my thoughts jump to, “Hey that's not fair! It was their ancestors who did those things, not this group of people. All those complainers from the exodus are all dead, this is a brand new generation.”

That was the beginning of the collapse of my alleged innocence. Pouring through the Scriptures, it became obvious that God demands we take responsibility for national sin. There are many examples of similar situations like we read in the Bible books of Daniel and Deuteronomy.

We in America have sinned. We have not acknowledged nor admitted that we have and continue to place people in positions of status and importance. And as long as we are the ones on the winning end of the balance, we refuse to see the sin. As Christians, how can we read Paul's letter to the Galatian Church and allow this sin to continue?

God’s Word (The Holy Bible) says in Galatians 3:28 (ESV),“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

God's Word ushers in conviction and I know in my heart this is true. So what is my next right move? Where can I start?

I'm perusing books, watching movies, reading novels about and by the Black community to gain their perspective. I want to understand. And I desire the dismantling of the heinous crime of oppression.

I also apologize to my dear friend, a woman of color, for the struggles that she and her ancestors and her children have had to navigate. Admitting that I have disregarded the white privilege that epitomizes my life. Offering my time weekly to listen and gain an understanding of her life as a Black woman. My plan is to do more of this, to increase our meeting to add more people. It is my belief that as we get to know each other’s stories, our empathy and love toward one another will grow.

Now, like Daniel, my heart asks of the Lord forgiveness for our nation's sin of oppression. I include myself. We have plundered our brothers and sisters of color. We categorize people by social status and power. We are not at all living Paul's admonition in Galatians 3:28.

Imagine a world where all God's children were flourishing. No oppression. No hatred. No privilege for one people to the detriment of another. We can have hope for that world. God wants us to see with our eyes. We must look into the eyes of Black people and see the pain of their ancestors residing in their souls. 

God wants us to understand with our hearts that He loves all people. He created everyone in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) God wants us to turn, repent from our previous sin of oppression and hatred. And He will heal us. (Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40)

Let’s pray: O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. Heal our nation. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen!

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. 

Stephanie has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018 she became an ordained Teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. 

What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God.

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Introducing Stephanie Bankhead, one of the backup writers!


Introducing Stephanie Bankhead, in her words:

“Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness...” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” 
–Genesis 1:26–27 (NRSV)

We (humankind) are created in the image of God. 

What does that mean in our everyday lives and do we all consider this truthful? How do we walk this out? The Word of God has proven over the years to be absolute truth to me. It is my firm belief that every person walking on this planet God shaped in His own image. Because of that, there is a dignity endowed every person.

It is not enough to know about the oppression and atrocities waged against Black people. We all need to jump into the journey with them. We need to repent of the sins of our ancestors, the white Europeans. Let's come beside them and lament on their behalf.

A few years ago I would have told you that my ancestors were from Italy. We had nothing to do with the slave trade or mistreatment of Black people. The funny thing is, every time I read the Bible, it ends up "reading me." At the end of Deuteronomy, before Moses died, he admonishes the people for the sin they committed against God upon leaving Egypt. The specific sins he refers to are actually sins their parents committed. He was holding them accountable for the sins of their ancestors. This is not an isolated incident in Scripture. Both in Ezra and Daniel, the prophets offer a prayer of repentance for the sins of the people. Sins that they did not commit.

I'm taking their lead. While meeting weekly with my friend, Andrea, I am repenting of the sins of my European fathers. We are having the hard conversations. She is sharing from her experience as a Black woman in America. And I am sharing from mine as a White European woman. We are dreaming for a better, more fair future for her children and grandchildren.

My hope is that through my experience and recent revelation other White sisters wake up to the injustice that is going on under our noses. Relationships are key to healing. When you know a person’s story, empathy can happen. Our plan is to invite others into our small group to continue the hard conversations. Our goal is to forge relationships that bring about the love of God into this world in a bigger way.

Wouldn't it be amazing for our story to inspire others to begin small group relationships with a diverse group of people and for this Christ-like love to spread like wildfire? We have adopted the motto, "Who is your one today?" The plan is to influence and love one person each day. And to invite them into this journey of change. 

So, who is YOUR one today? It all starts with only one.

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. 

Stephanie has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018 she became an ordained teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God. 

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Self-control


Striving for Self-Control
A guest post by Marie W. Watts


“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

While it sounds simple to deal with others who are different from us in the manner God intended, I continually struggle with this concept.

In the 1990s, while working for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), I had my first contact with a Nigerian. Before this meeting, my slate was clear. I had no opinions—good or bad—about individuals from that country.

Working on his failure to hire complaints was a disaster. He became angry with me because I was not able to prove discrimination. To me, he was rude and sexist.

Sometime later, a friend and I were working on a management training class for a nonprofit. I began to complain about Nigerians, and he said, “Nigerians? Nigerians. I’ve been to their country. They are warm, wonderful people.”

Then it hit me—I was stereotyping! I took everything negative about one individual and piled it on to all who were similar to him. And my job at the EEOC was to stop others from doing the same thing.

Why is it so easy to stereotype even when we intellectually know better and are striving to follow God’s command to love others?

Our brain has a built-in function that allows us to generalize. For instance, this ability is helpful when dealing with a pot of boiling water. Once we learn that we can be burned by the boiling water, we do not have to relearn this fact every time we see a bubbling pot. Just imagine how stressful life would be without our capability to generalize.

We can trip up, however, when dealing with people. Stereotyping keeps us from seeing the individual and all his/her potential. We often handicap that person with stereotypes, never bothering to look further.

Fast forward to the 2000s. The day the AT&T store opened in La Grange, Texas, I was one of the first customers through the door. I was determined to learn all I could about the Galaxy before making the switch from my iPhone.

As I stepped inside, a man I took to be in his 70s approached me with the familiar question, “May I help you?”

My brain began yelling, “Go away, I don’t want to talk to you. You don’t know anything about smartphones! You’re too old.” I caught myself, thank goodness, and realized I was stereotyping.

Turns out, the man who approached me was an AT&T executive in town for the grand opening. He quickly turned me over to a younger individual who came from an out-of-town store to help for the day. I bought the Galaxy and spent some time exploring the features.

Several weeks later, I went back to the store to ask questions. The out-of-towners were gone, and the regular staff (Millennials and Gen-Xs) were there. I found out I knew more about the Galaxy than they did. (By the way, I am in my 60s.) Go figure.

The bottom line:
In order to deal lovingly with others, we must continually monitor our tendency to lose self-control.

So, the next time you interact with someone different and began to experience negativity, stop and do a gut check. Has this individual actually done anything to elicit that emotion? Or, is stereotyping controlling your reaction? Only then can you make a conscious choice to act lovingly.

~*~
Author Bio:

Marie W. Watts is a former employment discrimination investigator and human resource consultant with over twenty-five years of experience. In pursuit of justice in the workplace, she’s been from jails to corporate boardrooms seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of humans at work. 

Her on-the-job observations came in handy when she co-authored a textbook about how to behave at work, Human Relations 4th ed. Additionally, her work has been published in the Texas Bar Journal and the Houston Business Journal as well as featured on Issues Today syndicated to 119 radio stations, NBC San Antonio, Texas, and TAMU-TV in College Station, Texas.

A popular diversity and employment discrimination trainer, Marie has trained thousands of employees to recognize their own biases and prejudices and avoid discriminating against others in the workplace. She has brought her experiences to life in the trilogy Warriors For Equal Rights about the struggles of ordinary people who work at the little-known federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

She and her husband live on a ranch in central Texas. In her spare time, she supports a historic house and hangs out with her grandsons. For more information about Marie and her stories about life, visit www.mariewatts.com.

~*~
Connect with Marie:
Bookbub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/marie-w-watts
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mariewattsbooks
Twitter - https://twitter.com/MarieWattsBooks
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/mariewattswriter/
Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/marie-w-watts-5b2a2b/

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: My lens and their world


Changing Our Lens
A personal essay by Roseanna M. White

As a novelist, something I’ve been thinking about a lot in recent years, as people ask me how I create my characters, is the lens through which we view the world. 


It’s easy to talk about in terms of these fictional people—after all, I’m the one creating them. I get to decide what their lens is and whether or not it shifts throughout the course of the story. I define it as “how they view their world and all their experiences.” A mathematician is going to see things differently than a musician, a biologist differently than a fairy tale enthusiast.

This is an understanding that I have about my made-up world because of my awareness of how I view the world always through the lens of “writer.” I’m always trying to put words to everything, trying to capture each experience through a turn of phrase.

We all have a thicker lens than our profession or even our calling, though. And I’m just beginning to understand what all truly makes up that glass through which we each see our world.

A lot of it is informed by our culture, our personal history. My lens is that of a white, middle-class woman. A West Virginian. A girl who prefers rural settings to urban ones. My lens comes from being raised in a Protestant church. In a school without much diversity. Going to a college that had people from a lot of countries, but most of whom still looked “like me.” 

But learning, there, to talk about everything with everyone, to view conversation as a way to bridge any gap. My lens comes from realizing, thanks to my fiction writing and reading, that we can always remove our own lens and put on someone else’s long enough to glimpse their world and come to new understandings.

As racial tensions continue to mount and a light is shone on systemic biases and injustices, sometimes our first reaction is to hide behind our own tinted glasses. “That’s not our world. That’s not how we experience it.” It’s easy to call it exaggeration or political or even flat-out mistaken.

But let’s take off our own lens. It’s a challenge—we’re so used to it that everything might look a little myopic when we make an effort to check our usual outlook at the door. But the best things in the life are the most difficult, and it’s an exercise worth the effort. Take off your lens. Put aside how you experience things. And really ask yourself how others do.

I’ve encountered prejudice here and there because of being from West Virginia. But it’s one I can counter by the way I present myself. When I take off that lens, I see that others don’t have the same ability—no matter what they do, people will make assumptions based on outward appearances that they cannot—and should not have to—change.

I’ve made plenty of friends with people of color, never seeing them as different. But when I take off my lens of “equality,” I see that there are differences, and that by ignoring the continued inequalities, I don’t make them disappear—I just don’t help solve them. In order to truly love and respect those friends, I need to take active steps, not just make assumptions.

I have opinions on right ways and wrong ways to handle problems. But we tend to define “right” and “wrong” by what works and what doesn’t. When I take off my lens, I see that what works for me does not work for others—and so, when is taking different action the only possible recourse?

This is something I have to keep practicing every day. But I should, every day. Because Jesus called us to look outside ourselves. To be radical with our love. To seek out those who are different. He calls us to see everyone through the lens of the only true equality to be found—His love.

What defines your lens? And how can you shift it to see the world in new ways?

~*~
Author Bio:

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes.

When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

~*~
Connect with Roseanna:
Blog: https://roseannamwhite.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoseannaMWhite/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/roseannamwhite/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roseannamwhite/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoseannaMWhite
Website: https://www.roseannamwhite.com

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Love Your Neighbor


Who Said Loving Your Neighbor Is Easy?

A guest post by Rev. Angelle M. Jones

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Luke 10:27 (NIV)

A few months ago, a dear friend started having what she thought to be a simple physical challenge. Living in separate cities but talking regularly, for weeks she shared how she was experiencing ongoing sinus problems. Because the city where she lived had been determined to have an abnormally high pollen count, she attributed that as the reason for her reoccurring misery.

Doctors prescribed several doses of antibiotics and steroids but she just kept getting worse. With COVID-19 lurking and some of her symptoms seeming relatable, her family persuaded her to go to ER. What she and doctors thought to be a simple sinus infection turned out to be a life altering illness, completely turning her world upside down.

Once hospitalized, her mode of communication was limited to texting and selfies to explain what was going on. Although most of it was more than my non-medical mind could begin to translate, I thought I had the gist of it. What I did understand was the diagnosis was a life-threatening autoimmune disease that with flare-ups, causes an insurmountable surge of deadly inflammation to spread throughout the body.

Prior to the diagnosis she had experienced an unusual amount of hearing loss in both ears for someone her age. Once diagnosed, they found this to be the reason not only for the hearing and minor memory loss, but for other symptoms as well. 

After being hospitalized for almost three weeks, when time to be released, unmarried and no children, aware that her family were all employed or out of state, I offered to help her transition back into her home. Of course, I had no idea what to expect but having served as a professional caregiver off and on for the past twenty years, I really didn’t give it much thought. It couldn’t be too difficult I reasoned, after all, I’m a natural caregiver! I raised two generations as a single parent, and consider myself pretty intelligent. Moreover, it was the least I could do since this friend of over thirty years had been there to help during some of my toughest times.

As I write this (and yes, I am publishing with her permission) I wish I could report that everything has been as easy as one, two, three, however, and I’m sure she’ll agree, it’s been a far cry from easy. Through tears, anger, and days with little to almost no sleep, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my professional caregiving skills and sincere desire to love “my neighbor as myself,” were challenged immensely.

After the first week, I realized I hadn’t truly grasped the brevity of her illness, or the level of care needed to help with the most basic needs. The idea of an autoimmune disease coupled with the threats of COVID alone were enough. Add having to become someone’s ears to communicate phone calls, shop, manage medicines, and never ending doctor’s appointments were unimaginable.

Perhaps with my own age-related limitations, when told, I obviously missed the full scope of the diagnosis. After a few weeks in the battle, I guess I expected my friend to be able to immediately pop in some high-powered hearing aids and quickly get back to life as normal.

Our first few days were probably the most difficult either of us had ever encountered. After the first week, we both woke up every morning tired not only physically, but our spirits were being tried in the fire and our minds were battle fatigued. I finally had to admit that even being quarantined for months before, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional battle involved with facing this new reality. Embracing the new, called for me to now accept that the two young women who used to share the art of listening to one another’s deepest desires, were no longer.

To say I have just undergone one of the most transformative periods of my life would be an understatement. If honest, most of us offer ourselves to serve in capacities we’re either passionate about or feel we’re qualified and gifted to do. However, every now and then we find ourselves called to enter into a transformational space of sacrifice. Often God has a way of calling us to a level of giving that warrants more than what we feel we can do on our own. Truth is, we really never do anything without His grace, and this experience proved it more than ever.

After a short period into my caregiving experience I had to question whether this particular case of loving my “neighbor” was possibly harder not only due to her circumstances but also because my friend is White and I am Black. In the midst of one of the most racially tense moments in America I found myself having to check my heart. Although I could pretty easily acknowledge my limitations, and admit how hard caring for her was, what I wasn’t ready for was the possibility that my anxiety might also be attributed to our racial difference.

Could it be that her excessive demands were based on her imposing her privilege? Was it her, or was it me that made me feel almost diminished to a modern-day slave by the daily tasks I was being asked to perform?

I knew the thought that my friend might be doing anything intentionally to discriminate against me was improbable. However, as a racial reconciliation facilitator, because of my work, especially in this season, I had to admit my thoughts moved there quickly. 

Thankfully, because my work focuses on building authentic race relationships, after deep introspection I moved past the thought quickly. Having to check my heart for racial bias toward my friend taught me that the work of racial reconciliation is ongoing. More importantly, I was reminded, it takes intentional work from both races, and whether friend or not, Black or White they are still my neighbor.

Through this experience I have come to realize that my neighbor is the one who I not only sympathize with, but the one with whom I may also have to empathize. What I’ve learned most, is that to love my neighbor as myself means, no matter how difficult, if at all possible, I will not allow them to experience loss alone. 
Instead, as in this case I must embrace my friend’s loss as mine. If my neighbor is suffering, so am I. If my neighbor grieves, I grieve. Most importantly, just as my friend is called to endure this trial, we may be called to endure it together. 

Simultaneously, God revealed to us one day in a divine moment of transformation that no doubt, we were called to share this sacred space of loss and grief together. Embracing, we cried and prayed, committing one another’s pain to the One who invited us to share this space of learning.

Instantly, we both knew it would be the place where we would learn how to truly “Love our neighbor as our self.”

~*~
Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 


Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.