Happiness is…

Happiness is…fill in the blank. There are as many definitions as there are people in the world. I used to think that happiness had to do with circumstances, so it was changeable. I have come to believe something very different. Happiness can be fixed and enjoyed on a daily basis, no matter what your circumstances are. Well, some may say, that sounds like joy, which is more profound than happiness and something only God can give: “Your hearts will rejoice and no one will rob you of your joy” John 16:22. True. Yet I am convinced that they are two sides of the same coin.
Real happiness is doing what you are created for-your purpose. It is not altered by the uncertainties of life. Think of it like your name: no matter what you go through or what happens, your name never changes. I’m still Colleen whether I am rich or poor, sick or healthy, etc. My true purpose brings both joy and happiness, emotional and spiritual. It gives me direction and focus. It keeps me going and teaches me patience along the way. It is much more than something to do. It is who I am. When you can live out of your true identity, you experience happiness and joy at their deepest levels.

Did you know we have real names? I don’t often use quotes, but in this case I must quote my mentor, Alain Dagba, as he writes in The Audacity to Dream about what “real name” means: “We are talking about your real name-not your social status or your titles. We are talking about what makes you who you are. We are talking about why God has to create you uniquely as you are, different in features from everyone else”.  My real names: I am Writer. I am Teacher. What you have deep inside you are the gifts God is waiting to give to the world to make it a better place. Unwrap yourself today.
If you need assistance on the journey, write me.

Racism and the Bible

“Then the Lord God formed man from the [a]dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
When I was a new Christian, I knew nothing about the Bible. Even though my father was raised in a church setting, we didn’t go to church regularly. I absorbed everything I was hearing in the church where I got saved and taking the information as God’s truth. I was naïve and trusting, so I believed what the more experienced church people told me. When I encountered racism for the first time, I was unaware that it was racism until many years later. I think God shielded me from a lot of things in my early years as a believer.
It all began with the young man who invited me to church. His name is Bob and he was very persistent. I came, I heard, I was saved. I began to come to church on Sunday mornings. I was the only Black person in attendance. It didn’t bother me, I was used to all kinds of people. During the Bible Study after Worship, I asked my friend Bob if I could sit by him. I didn’t know anyone else very well yet. He said it was okay. I also asked him to give me a ride home since I didn’t have a car. He agreed to that as well. No big deal, right? Wrong.
I received a phone call a day or two later from a young couple asking me over for a visit and snacks (watermelon!). I was excited because I had very few friends and no social life. They picked me up and drove me to their beautiful home. We sat down and the husband opened his bible to Genesis chapter one. I listened as he read off these words “after his kind, after its kind”, etc. He explained that God created all things after their own kind, including humans. In other words, even humans were separated by color. What did this have to do with me? Because I sat by Bob and he gave me a ride home, that was an indication that we were in a dating relationship. We were not supposed to date outside of our “kind”. Interracial marriages were forbidden in this church. That fact is nothing new. But what angers me is the misuse and misinterpretation of God’s Word, making it mean something that it doesn’t.
God’s essence is love. Love does not divide, but unifies based on what cannot be seen with the naked eye. God created the first human beings and breathed His life into them and they became living souls. It is this that connects us to one another and to our Creator-God. We are all one kind: humankind. It is as simple as that.

The Great American Cop-out

Many years ago when I began to write the stories contained in The Phoenix Chronicles, there wasn’t the attention on police killing young men as there are today. One of those stories, “The Transformation of a Black Woman”, was about just what the title indicates. The Black woman, Toby, tells her own story as she goes from color blind to awareness of bleak racial truths. The catalyst to her transformation is the death of a family friend, who was shot by police when he was unarmed. Toby struggles with whether his death was accidental or on purpose because of his color. I won’t give the rest of the story away, but I’d like to take something from her struggle for us today as we are confronted with racial hatred.
When the claim of color blindness is touted, it is thought to be an end to all discussions of race, meaning the person saying it is not a racist. The truth is, color blindness is a cop-out. How can we pretend we don’t see color? Unless we are physically blind, we see color. Toby was proud of her color blindness, but she soon discovered that there is no one suffering from such a malady. Strip this excuse away and we can get into real talk about race. As our beloved President once said, “We talk a lot about race. There’s no shortcut. And we don’t need more talk.” He’s right. However, I believe talking is a huge step, if the talk is honest and without name-calling, guilt, shame, or accusations where we can look each other in the eye, whether it’s brown or blue, accept the whole person, and get on with loving one another for real.
If you have been wounded by racism, whether as a perpetrator or victim, seek healing. That healing begins when you acknowledge the reality of where you are and what you’ve done. Then turn to the only One Who can make you a whole new person: Jesus Christ. He died for you. Believe Him today.
I love you and I’m here for you if you need help on the journey. I live to serve.

Remembering Daddy

Remembering Daddy
I am in Omaha, NE, this weekend for the memorial of my father, who died in January. I am surrounded by the family I love and who love me. I have one memory of Daddy that stands out among them all. I was a sophomore in high school and we were given the opportunity to choose the English class we wanted. I chose Creative Writing, of course. One day my guidance counselor called me in his office to tell me I had to change my choice. Why? He thought Creative Writing was too hard for me, so he put me in another class. The summer went by and when I started my junior year, I complained to my family (at the dinner table, next to my dad) that I wished I could have gotten into the writing class. Daddy did not hesitate to write the school and tell them to put me in the creative writing class. Within a day, I was in and I excelled until I graduated from high school. I had been writing since I was six and I would have continued to write whether I took the class or not. The diamond in this story is that Daddy believed in me enough to stand up for me. He supported my writing and books all of my life until the day he died.
I carry this memory home with me where I will continue to write the stories and messages God puts upon my heart to bless the world.

Truth Heals

Doesn’t truth always hurt? So how can it heal? Rayne Lewis learns the reality of this when she discovers a long kept family secret that shatters what she believed about her mom. Without giving away the secret (you’ll have to read the book!), Rayne is hurt by this discovery because the people she loves have lied to her all her life. Not only is she grieving the loss of her mother, she must deal with the aftermath, including the Secret. This Secret feels like a knife digging in her flesh, but once the knife is released, the healing can begin.
I have written often of emotional wounds that wreak havoc in your life and keep you from fulfilling your purpose. I urge you to seek healing for them. They are the result of pain inflicted on you and that has nothing to do with truth. In Rayne’s case, hiding the real story gave her a distorted picture of her family’s past. They may have been trying to protect her. But this protection is false, for when the real story is discovered, it is the lie that kills.
Don’t ever be afraid of truth, even if it hurts. There is more damage done with a lie than the most devastating truth.
If you need assistance in your journey, write me. I live to serve.