Is My Pastor A Good Pastor? – A Quick Litmus Test

A few thangs:
As you go about the Father’s business today, be sure to include urgent and believing prayer for your under-shepherd. That man has toiled for at least a week about how to guide a room full of people who love him, hate him, or are indifferent toward him. #LetHimEnjoyHisJob #ItsLiterallyInTheBible #Hebrews13

If your pastor has not shied away from teaching you everything that saith the Lord, remember EVERY sermon he has preached over the years when you’re critiquing this one. We know if every week we heard “in the Greek…” 50-lem times, or if every sermon included every nuance of every word in every Bible verse, you’d be complaining “church is too looong”. #NoLie #ISatThruASermonWhereThePastorPreachedOnTheWordHIM #ItWasAwesome #PastorALPattersonJr (Sidebar: if you’re not committed to any church, are you qualified to critique at all?)

If, after Sunday’s sermon, ain’t NOBODY mad at your pastor — pro/anti-abortionists, pro/anti-immigrants, pro/anti-homosexuality types, Tupac vs. Biggie types — if ain’t NOBODY mad and ready to make him a victim of cancel culture, he didn’t do it right. In the words of the great Dr. Fran Blomberg, “When truth hits the fan, a little of it gets on everybody.”

You will not change Jesus.

You will not change Him.

Jesus will change you.

Your entire being should be wrecked after an encounter with Him. He and His word should disrupt your way of life, to say the very least.

Stop reading the Bible and then saying “But…”

Two. The number of Sears technicians it takes to screw in a lightbulb – November 1, 2020

I wish I were kidding but I am not. The little guy told the big guy,

“…and the bulb goes right into the socket right there.”

“Oh, I see. Like this?”

“Yes.”

Historical and cultural context on how simple this should be: my husband has replaced the bulbs in that thing before. This is to be expected as bulbs burn out. That’s what they do.

Don’t let anybody tell you different, Beloved.

But I have a coupla problems here.

The first is that it took two fully-grown men to get it done who chose this trade and training and presumably carry this job out on a semi-regular basis.

The second is that when my husband replaced these same bulbs before (I didn’t even know he had done it – he just saw they were out, bought new ones, replaced them lickety-split, and I was back in business without ever even knowing I was out of business. This is our routine, by the way), but he had not chosen this trade and training to be a Sears technician, but is in fact, a preacher and pastor called by the Most High God.

There actually is a third problem here and though it is written as third, it is the primary one.

The unit is less than three years old and three bulbs of the three-lightbulb housing (if you’re counting, that = all of them), radiation-spilling (more on that later) fast food heater blew out in that amount of time. Sheesh. And my 46-year-old eyes need all the light they can get whilst I’m cooking, including the light that so shines before men. So to have nothing illuming my work on the stove was difficult.

Add to that, the door handle was broken – hence the potential radiation leak – and not through any fault of our own. The little technician clearly and plainly told me, “It’s the heat from your stove. It disintegrates the bop-dee-bops (that’s the industry term, you see) and it just wears down. You’re gonna have to replace this door again. 😐

Bro.

We have what Sears refers to as a “Protection Agreement”, so the repairs were covered. Yay. But upon receiving my phone call in the middle of a work day updating him on all these foolishnesses, you can imagine my husband’s annoyance level was pret-ty high.

“Wait; what?”

“Yep.”

“There are two men there, and one of them does not know how to screw in a bulb?!”

“Yup.”

“Is he a Sears employee?!”

“Actually, Sears has contracted this repair to XYZ Appliance Repair.”

“I’m sorry. I asked the wrong question. Do both men work in this trade, and presumably have been trained to do so?!”

“Mm-hm. That’s what I’m gonna write in my blog post, anyway.”

He sighed. “…You got your Roscoe?”

“On my person.”

“OK. Call me if anything pops off.”

👏🏾 And 👏🏾then.

The door they sent to replace the broken one was used.

Bless it.

Sears sent me a used door, y’all, and expected me to be happy about it.

I did not meet their expectations.

The little tech called this issue in to his boss who ran the numbers and so generously decided that since a new door would cost more than just replacing the whole component, they would do that instead.

After replacing three out of three lightbulb housings, three bulbs, and a door, we netted a new microwave. Thank ya, God. 🙌🏾

I don’t know how to wrap this one up in a neat little bow. Just telling you what happened. 🤷🏾‍♀️

We Regret to Inform You

When the report is good, we lead with it. Hemming and hawing is out of place here. Straight out of the gate the doctor exclaims, “Congratulations!” or the company confirms, “You‘re hired!” or, after a frenzied search I bellow, “I found my size – and it has pockets!” No feather-filled blanket of kind words needs to be laid down to soften the landing of pleasant news. That good message is the evidence of things hoped for so even laid bare, it is well received.

I hastily clicked on the bold font of the unread incoming email. And when I did – not with a plan to read it, but to see how very unnecessarily long the first paragraph was to tell me “Yes!” – I immediately knew. My head and my heart had grown familiar with the shape of the words that rejected me. Maturity has caused a callus to form, but I have not been able to completely heal upon my learning that “other candidates were better suited”, or to find out “(only) eleven people read your blog,” or being asked, “close the window; it’s cold in here!” Also, “it’s just a chemical pregnancy” – these are all painful phrases that to varying degrees have been indelibly woven into the fabric of my life in days recent or decades past.

But at this age, I gotta ask myself some hard questions and be prepared to hear some equally hard answers. Wanting a child or a job or a bedroom that’s set at an optimal 65° for nighttime sleep is one thing, but my hope being anchored in those things is another matter entirely. I have to realize that all of these desires are temporal and finite. None of them fills the void that aches for something that lasts; something that is unconditional; something – nay, someone, who completely satisfies.

I saw this graphic on Instagram recently:

This wrecked me. The writer was kind to use the word “esteem” but in my life, that word is code for “idolize”. As much as I know about God and how he is jealous for my affection, my propensity to be an idol factory remains unchanged. I still find myself seeking satisfaction in stuff, people, and carbs. And every single time, the stuff is not relational, the people are broken, and the carbohydrates leave me with regret of calories gone by.

But God.

One of the terms in this two-word phrase is powerful beyond human comprehension. The word “but” tells us that the statement previously made can be stricken because of the words about to come, and in this case, that word is “God”. He knows we are this way. He knows that we are prone to wander – Lord, I feel it! He is not surprised when I go astray; he is not caught off guard when I sin; he is not any less God when I hold these idols in high esteem over Him.

A brilliant pastor said, “God causes lasting change through catastrophe or revival. And sometimes, He uses both.” Ah, yes. To show me what my idols are and how to remove them, why wouldn’t He combine a bit of the bitter with the sweet? For me, it’s an Ebenezer – a stone of remembrance. I need a reminder not only of how low I sunk, but that when I was alone at my absolute lowest in that pit bathing in the filthy cycle of my sin and guilt and shame and sin and guilt and shame, the grace of God had to sink lower than me to scoop me up and pull me out of it. He knows what’s at the end of my having idols and He knows that it’s disastrous. But instead of doling out to me justice, He washes me clean with His finished work on the cross, then showers me with abundant mercy.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. His mercies are new every morning. And I lean into that mercy and shout out and thank Him for his grace. And in the quiet – because the removal of idols reveals that they clang and have clamor built into them – I can finally see who He is and how much He loves me.

Find an illustration more analogous to life than one from the garden. I’ll wait.

I’m smarter now that I learned these truths while gardening today:

1. If you consistently feed a houseplant with nutrients and give it water to drink, it will eventually outgrow its pot and need a bigger one.


2. If you only give a plant water – no nutrients – it may still grow, but it won’t grow to be all it was created to be.


3. Do not presume that what was needed for a plant to thrive in the previous season is all it will need to thrive in the current season.


4. It is possible for two different berries growing on the same bush to appear equally mature on the outside. The difference is the sweetness on the inside.


5. All plants need daily exposure to the sun.

6. While the affects of the sun’s light can be duplicated, they can never be replicated. The bulb in a grow light can burn out, but the sun’s rays are still effective — even on a cloudy day.


7. In the ground is the most ideal location for a plant to grow to maturity. Sunlight is evenly dispersed, nutrients are adequately taken up, and roots can grow down to find a water source in times of drought. Once you put a plant in a pot, all this work is yours.

The Top Five *Philip Bailey voice* Reeeasoooons This Particular Sabbatical is Critical (Warning: Not A Funny Post. Very Serious. I’m Listening to Charlie Cunningham’s “Force of Habit” to Ensure I Don’t Fall Back on my Comedy Career in this Post. It’s A Contemplative Song in My Playlist Titled Contemplative Playlist.)

  1. My phone was open to “Screen Time” accidentally and I discovered that a good chunk of my day is spent online. I guessed that I averaged five-ish hours a day on my phone and while I’m happy to report that the amount of time I spend there is down 19% from last week, 12 hours and 59 minutes is an alarmingly high average for this week and if you’re counting, that’s more than half the hours in the day. Half the hours in the day, I said. Yes, I do my banking, some Bible-ing, some grocery shopping, some school stuff and other tasks that could be considered productive on the internet via my phone but an inordinately large amount of my 24 hours is spent on Twitter, IG, and Facebook and watching Jacob Collier videos on YouTube. That is not good. And while none of those activities is bad, too much of those activities is. So, some major adjustments are due. I really could stop there, but so much more necessitates this time away.
  2. Someone wrote the wrong lyrics to a line in the Oscar Mayer song and I was triggered. And we didn’t even grow up eating b-o-l-o-g-n-a. Too boughie then; still am now. Even though, growing up, we did get that bomb government cheese from our church and I repeat: it was bomb.
  3. Complete strangers keep coming for my loved ones online, the chiefest of these being my husband and I don’t handle that especially well. The hubs recently posted a video that got a bit of traction and he’s gained quite a few new followers across his social medias. Not all of them love him, surprisingly. People keep telling me that I would have to have thick skin to be in ministry full-time and if allowing slights against Brandon to come and go unaddressed serves as evidence of my thick skinned-ness, my recent behavior online is irrefutable proof that, sixteen years in, my skin is still paper thin. Heads up: I plan for that character flaw (strength?) to not change. And if you want it to change, don’t talk to me. Talk to Brandon. You tell him to stop taking such good care of me.
  4. Because my daughter told me that she learns her book smarts from her dad, and her street smarts from me. I don’t know if I’m prouder that she thinks I’m street smart though I’m anything but, or offended that she thinks she gets her book smarts from her dad. And I’m her homeschool teacher.
  5. It’s August. It’s time.

See y’all next month.

It’s 12:22 PM and My Kids Are Still Asleep and Ain’t Nobody Mad But the Devil and My Husband

My 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son assembled a homemade tent to sleep in. The materials included several bed coverings of various sizes, plus my snow-white blanket I had freshly laundered but not yet folded, a curtain rod extension, four flimsy fold-out chairs and one solid one, and a broken-zippered sleeping bag which is now only good as a pallet base. How they pulled this together without their dad or me knowing is a mystery because let me tell ya — its construction was involved.

When they awaken, I have to get their permission to post a pic of the remains of the tent.

Huh? How are they still asleep at 12 noon?

Well, I’m guessing they are still asleep at almost noon due to their consistently going to bed at an ungodly hour, and I suspect that’s happening because I’ve simply outgrown parenting.

But who’s to say, really?

I can tell that their dad/my husband, AKA the fun parent, is about to put his foot down, though. Each day when he comes home and I boast about how late they slept, he just blank stares me, and then resolutely says to them, “You don’t have any business sleeping until noon unless you got off work at 10 o’clock in the morning. And the last time I checked my notes, *checks notes again* yes, I pay allllllll the bills around here,” and I just love him for that.

But while his size 13EEE remains aloft, at 9PM MST, I’ll close out my eating window with this bottle of electrolyte water, a keto-friendly treat of nuts, berries, and Monterey Jack cheese chunks, and giggle at Shawn Harrison in Family Matters and his underrated yet hilarious portrayal of Waldo Geraldo Faldo.

These Social Ills

Our nation’s latest tragedy finds me wounded on two fronts – the continued devaluing of black life, and not being able to bring a smile to your face. For my own healing, I want to make you laugh. If I could share the stuff that has come out of Ellis’ mouth over these last few days – whew! – it would surely elicit a cackle. But Ecclesiastes 3 taught me that there is a time to laugh and a time to mourn; now is the time for the latter. And so here we are, grieving for a while, and looking toward the hills from which comes our help.

I follow several white evangelical speakers across my social media platforms because of the impact they’ve had on my spiritual formation. Most of them have decades-long ministries with international impact and influence. I no longer live in the Bible belt where I would previously access them through radio. My family and I now live in Denver, where the culture is significantly less God-friendly, so I am grateful for this medium.

One of these speakers published a video which was in my news feed yesterday morning. I keep the volume of videos muted as I scroll so I did not know the subject on which she was speaking, but she was waving her hands, her eyes were bucked, and if I were to guess based solely on her body language, the topic was one about which she was passionate. I assumed she was up in arms over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minnesota police officers, primarily Officer Derek Chauvin. I thought, as one of the people who claims to serve the God who calls us to seek justice, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, then surely, surely, she was speaking passionately about these social ills. I clicked the vid to turn on the audio.

Turns out she was carrying on about whether or not to wear a mask during the spread of the Coronavirus.

Listen. We all have a brand; we are all curators of the content of our social media platforms; we use them exactly the way we want to use them. We craft our posts, graphics, memes, texts; we write them and rewrite them to make sure they say just the right thing (and if you’re me, you edit them even after the world has access to them – tweak it just a bit); we record and re-record videos because we neglected to say this phrase or want to emphasize that thing. To be sure, what we say – what all of us say – in this public arena is what we want people to believe is true about us.

The problem is, what we don’t say is just as important as what we do say.

To repeatedly suffer hate-filled, senseless, horrific loss of people who look like my husband and my son and my daddy and my brother and my nephews and my uncles and my cousins simply because of the color of the skin they were born in is a difficult way to live. When the hatred that is normally a groundswell erupts and an Eric Garner or a Trayvon Martin or a Philando Castille or an Ahmaud Arbery is killed, my anxiety heightens and I am in absolute terror every time my husband leaves our home. And in times like these, it is wholly heartbreaking for my white evangelical-leader siblings who have international influence and impact to remain silent. They model what my sister-friend, Dr. Sarita Lyons, refers to as “a pattern of silence” (follow her here).

And I mean not one peep.

We see you. We hear you. And we heard what you did not say.

My husband and pastor, Brandon Washington (follow him here and here), posted a video on our church’s YouTube channel to white evangelicals that you can view here – admonishing them for not fulfilling the call to pursue justice that Jesus has been placed on their lives. His parting words were, “If you’re not going to join me, then get out of my way.”

But since you’ve read this far, you still have a chance to join us in this fight.

Here’s what you can do to advance the message of the Gospel of your Jesus across your social media platforms:

  • Rid yourself of the safety of consoling your black friends via a private inbox message, e-mail, or text message. When you use those avenues to communicate, you maintain a degree of safety and privacy from your other friends who won’t see you do that. And when we don’t call you on it, we protect you, too. That ends now. Post that on our wall in public so all your friends know where you stand. If you’ve already done that, great. Keep doing it. If you haven’t, do it now.
  • With their permission, change your profile picture to one of a black person or family that you know and love. Then write a post telling their story. In doing this, you will have created a space to start a conversation that begins to teach people that black people are normal human beings who also hate to fold laundry.
  • And this is the big one – share my husband’s video – it’s right here – to the social media platforms of the white evangelical leaders you follow. Many of them have pages on which you cannot create a post, but you most certainly can hop on an existing post and add it there. Expect to receive backlash; God promised you that would happen. But since your Savior went all the way to Golgotha’s hill, hung, bled, and died, you can handle push back from your grandma. When they rebuke you with, “This is not the time nor the place for this!”, your response should be, “Then, when is it?”

Abandon your brand. Embrace your God. May the things that break God’s heart break yours, and may they move you into action.

Proverbs 31:8 & 9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Untitled

The year was 2006. I was employed at a small consulting firm. The husband-and-wife team of owners was out of the office so one other employee and myself were the only two people in the small, two-story office building on a typically cold, January morning in Denver. The other worker – I want to call her Margaret, though I know that isn’t her name – had little in common. She was in her fifties, I, in my thirties; she had grown children and small grandchildren, I had neither; she is white, I am black. The singular thing we had in common is that we worked for the same company.

As someone who ran from controversy and quite frankly, don’t stand sure-footed when handling it today, I am certain that I did not initiate a sure-to-be controversial conversation about race relations in America, but I was in the middle of a tête-à-tête on that very topic with Margaret. She made a statement, then I made a statement, then she, and being ill-prepared and exhausted to continue the dialogue, I made an attempt to end it with,

“Well, racism is definitely still alive and well in America”, to which Margaret replied, “Well, at least there aren’t lynchings anymore.”

The year is 2020. Yesterday, on May 25, some fifteen years after Margaret assured me that lynchings no longer occur, George Floyd, a black man, was lynched by four white police officers who suspected him of “forgery in progress”, a crime for which the punishment in any state is as minimal as a fine and as severe as imprisonment.

In no state is the penalty death, much less in the street by someone sworn to “protect and serve”.

What my white friends can do: examine your own heart. Honestly look inward and see how your heart and your mind are at odds with one another. If they do reconcile such evil, ask God to show you how they don’t. He will show you, whether you believe in him or not.

This is my website. Let me tell you how I see this going down, a’ight? A’ight.

Making people laugh is my calling. My calling, I say. So when you read what is written here, thou shan’t be taken off guard when you find yourself doing so. Be it a well-timed, flawlessly executed joke or one that doesn’t land (my goodness, those are the worst because now I’m having to explain to you what the joke meant and how it was funny to your no-sense-of-humor-having self), being gifted with the ability to make people giggle so hard that they cry or snort or slobber or poot is something that brings me joy.

And I do consider it one of the spiritual gifts – gastrointestinal upset notwithstanding – that Paul excluded because those Romans and Corinthians were in constant need of “grace and peace”, so he didn’t have time for the jokey-jokes.

While I expect that you will release a chortle or two, I hope you will read something here that makes you think, or maybe even changes your mind on some deeply-ingrained belief you hold (Natural deodorant is a scam. Change my mind… 🪑☕.️..after you shower then apply some Tussy or Mitchum. And Mitchum is so effective, you could skip a day; not so for that Himalayan salt stone you swiped your armpits with this morning. I love ya too much to not tell ya when ya attitude and ya underarms stank.)

Mitchum Cream Deodorant Unscented 2 Oz. Jar

But my primary goal is to make Jesus’ name famous – just so we’re clear.

Topics we’ll explore will include, but will not be limited to:
*Jesus; He’s worth the repeat
*Health, Fitness, and Why You Keeping A Bacon Grease Can 👏🏾 Filled 👏🏾With 👏🏾 Bacon Grease is Crucial To Us Developing A Long-Lasting Friendship
*Homeschooling (is hard. The end.)
*Ministry Life (inhaaaaaale; exhaaaaaale)
*Marriage/Mar-rich (see what I did there?)
*Miscellaneous (to be sorted before Jesus returns)

Now, I said “Topics we’ll explore” because I do not intend for this to be one-way communiqué. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to be so engaging *whew, chillay!* that you can’t help but respond, even when we disagree. And on that note, I’ll give you the singular rule that we all must follow whilst in this space:

Talk to me like you love me. I will talk to you like I love you.

Oh! And if (when, let’s be real) you getcho chuckle on and you think of someone else whose day would be brightened here, are you gonna hide it under a bushel? “NO!” (I heard you. 🤣) Leave a comment, then share the love and laughter with your friends and subscribe and follow my website thingy! I’m still new to this, so I’m clear on neither the language nor what happens when you do that. But I know I’m supposed to say it. 🤷🏾‍♀️

Alright! That’s all for today. Talk with you soon!

P.S. If you have the pleasure of knowing my husband, the esteemed Master, soon-to-be Dr. Brandon Washington, then you know he is out of his mind over all these made up words, bad syntax, and poor grammatical choices. Just nuts. (⬅I threw that fragment sentence in just for you, Brantastic. 😉)

More, much more on him later…

According to Ellis

“…and there’s stuff I want to talk to you about but we’re always in public and everyone’s around and I can’t talk to you,” confessed my eight-year-old son and my heart sunk.

I dream-sequenced back to when at the tender age of five, he expressed to me that he wasn’t getting any respect. Because it was bedtime, I wrote it off as a stall tactic, but upon further investigation, turns out he wasn’t completely wrong and in that moment, by not hearing his heart, I had failed him.

Fast forward three years and I was having a deja vu moment.

You have to understand – a request from Ellis for alone time is common and since he has no affect, missing his emotions can happen easily. But with that singular loaded statement, “I can’t talk to you”, I internally lamented the obviously unmanageable volume of heart-wrenching topics that he wanted – nay, needed to talk to me about, and that since we hadn’t done so, I was failing him yet again.

But this was my fresh start. This was the dawn of our evening walks and talks in which he would pour out his little heart to me – his rock, his confidant, his momma. I swallowed the lump in my throat and braced myself. “Well, that’s why we’re doing this, Buddy. It’s just me and you out for our walk. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about. So whatcha got?”

“Okay. If you had a flying car, what would it run on – Slushee or smoothie?”

And so began the first of what I hope to be many evening walks between my son and me.

We left our home, which is the third one on our block, and headed toward the corner and before we got there, I heard him exclaim, “I love this walk” two times and then two more as we crossed the street. His excitement was contagious. I asked him how far he wanted to walk: a quarter-mile, a half-mile, advising him that no matter what distance he chose, we’d have to double it because we would be walking back, as well.

“Do you want to go to MLK?”

“What about that school up there with the playground?”

“Oh, sure, we can do that!”

And so we did. It was a warm spring evening, and he had donned a light sweater. Not sure, I asked if he had the sweater on in the house or if he had just put it on for our walk. “I just put it on for our walk. It looked like sweater weather to me. I love this walk.”

My husband and I regularly relish in the fact that our son is unintentionally overflowing with entertaining quips, so priming the pump is not necessary. One needs to only make him aware that questions need his answers – and he readily supplies them.

His thoughts on seeing a deer: *gasp* “Is that a deer? Mooom, that’s not a real deer. Fun fact: I’ve never seen a real deer before. Just kidding. Yes, I have.”

His BFF’s mom and I planned a surprise Zoom meeting for our sons. When I asked him if he enjoyed the surprise: “I conveniently just said that I barely ever see him and then I saw him!”

On plans for the future: “When Coronavirus ends, I say we go to Italy and take a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and make it look like I’m holding it up. And Reese can have a turn, too.”

His feelings about me protecting him from the cross traffic of oncoming cars: “I’d be furious with them if they hit ya.”

We had returned home on the evening of our first walk. My favorite son has on his jammers and it is now bedtime. He just walked into my bedroom, gave me some sugar and asked, “Guess how many friends I have?” “How many?” “If I count Reese, 34. Goodnight.”

Oh, and for the record, we agreed that smoothies would be the better source of fuel for our flying cars. Slushees are just ice, sugar, and syrup flavoring (he can’t pick a fave between Orange and Blue Raspberry), whereas smoothies have fresh fruit, healthy fats, and are organic, and that’s good for everything, according to Ellis.