Proud of what LOOKS like a Failure

Has YOUR failure ever turned into someone else’s success?

Have you ever tried to run a marathon and failed to finish, but the very fact that you tried, inspired others to start getting physically active?

Have you ever pushed to get a promotion, only to have someone come in along side you and say, “If YOU can make that much money, I can too.”  You actually don’t get that promotion, but the other person does?  Somehow what turned out to be your failure, turned into their success.

Ever since, we adopted, I’ve seen this effect in play SO many times.  We have 7 children in all now.  When one of them makes a good decision, it clearly has a ripple effect on the other six.  When one of them makes a bad decision, the others relax because they feel as if the bar has been lowered.

My children, can even affect my husband and me.  Their positive actions challenge us to do better, to strive harder, to make sure we’re taking the lead as positive role models in our children’s lives.

A small example of this, was when our 21 year old came in from a run last night.  She doesn’t run on a regular basis, so we definitely took notice when she came in all sweaty with her gym clothes on.  My husband sat there for a few minutes, and said, “Ndolo, if you can do it, I can do it.”  So he asked if I wanted to go out and run.  I opted to stay comfortably on the couch.  But then, my husband came inside all sweaty too.  There was a certain bounce in his step that said, “I just did something good for myself.”  Five minutes later, I got up, put my exercise clothes on, laced up my tennis shoes, emerged from the bedroom and said, “If you did it, I can certainly do it too!”

All of this, based on ONE person’s SINGLE decision to go out and run.

Another larger example of this is when I recently applied for a fairly good paying job that was significantly out of my comfort zone.  When I got to the third and final interview, my husband publicly announced that if I make THAT much, he should be making more.  So he applied for a few jobs.  Oddly enough, he ended up getting a phone interview at the SAME place where I applied.  They didn’t even call him in for an in-person interview and yesterday was his FIRST day, making a 50% increase in salary. (O.k. maybe we’re just a competitive family?)

Long story short, I did not get the job.
But my efforts, inspired my husband’s actions.
What turned out to be my failure, inspired my husband to success.

(On a side note, I was disappointed that I did not get the job, but I’m thankful for the insight into the power of our actions, EVEN when they don’t turn out to benefit US directly.)

What about you?  Maybe you try to be a better Christian.  Maybe you work really hard to be an example of Christ.  Perhaps everyday you try to help someone who is down and out.  Maybe you try really hard to keep your life pure and free of temptation.  Maybe you’ve fallen.  It could be that you consider yourself to be a miserable failure spiritually.

Sometimes, I worry about what “unbelievers” think of me and I feel like a fraud, because I keep failing.  My life is not a victory.  They see me fall.  They see me get angry with my children and nurture roots of bitterness.  They hear me talk about God’s love, but sometimes they see me mistreating my neighbor.  And I think about giving up.  “I’m failing at this thing.”  “Why am I even trying?”  “Is this path that I’m on, really even a path to ANYWHERE?”  “I’m knocking, but someone keeps slamming the door shut in my face.”

I wonder if perhaps I’m doing more harm than good, when I share my faith with my children, yet turn around and undo all my words with my actions.

But, just maybe, my spiritual failures are inspiring someone else to spiritual “success.”  Maybe the fact that they see me “trying” to do right, will actually inspire them to try too.  And maybe they will make it to the finish line!


Ed Stetzer – Church Music Conflicts: Have We Really Always Done It “That Way”?

Article taken from http://www.edstetzer.com


As I mentioned in The Exchange episode with Lecrae, here’s the historic details I ran through near the opening of the show.


Music can be one of the most controversial issues in the body of Christ. Each person has his or her own unique taste in music. Christians listen to, enjoy, and are edified by all of these kinds of music. But should they?

In seeking to determine what is the right music for a church, it is important that we apply biblical principles to evaluate our music. That is not always easy, as the Bible contains no music notes and God indicates no musical preferences. Though, as I’ve written before, I do believe there are seven tests based on biblical principles that can help determine the suitability of music.

This evaluation is not a new thing. Music has always been a struggle within the church. It seems odd to hear Christians today insist that a certain style of music is best or act as if the recent “Worship Wars” were an anomaly in church history. Any Christian who knows our past would know that neither of those is the case.

Take a look at the patterns throughout the centuries, which Elmer Towns and I detailed in the book, Perimeters of Light:

“Get rid of that flute at church. Trash that trumpet, too. What do you think we are, pagans?”
200s: Instrumental music was almost universally shunned because of its association with debauchery and immorality. Lyre playing, for example, was associated with prostitution.

“Hymns to God with rhythm and marching? How worldly can we get?”

300s: Ambrose of Milan (339-397), an influential bishop often called the father of hymnody in the Western church, was the first to introduce community hymn-singing in the church. These hymns were composed in metrical stanzas, quite unlike biblical poetry. They did not rhyme but they were sometimes sung while marching. Many of these hymns took songs written by heretics, using the same meter but rewriting the words.

“The congregation sings too much. Soon the cantor will be out of a job!”

500s: Congregations often sang psalms in a way that “everyone responds.” This probably involved the traditional Jewish practice of cantor and congregation singing alternate verses.

“Musical solos by ordinary people? I come to worship God, not man!”

600s: The monasteries, referencing “Seven times a day I praise you” (Ps. 119:164), developed a seven-times-daily order of prayer. The services varied in content, but included a certain amount of singing, mainly by a solo singer, with the congregation repeating a refrain at intervals. The services were linked together by their common basis in the biblical psalms in such a way that the whole cycle of 150 psalms was sung every week.

“Boring, you say? Someday the whole world will be listening to monks sing these chants.”

800s: Almost all singing was done in chant, based on scales that used only the white keys on today’s piano. The monastery was the setting above all others where Christian music was sustained and developed through the Dark Ages.

“How arrogant for musicians to think their new songs are better than what we’ve sung for generations.”

900s: Music began to be widely notated for the first time, enabling choirs to sing from music. Thus new types of music could be created which would have been quite out of the reach of traditions where music was passed on by ear.

“Hymns that use rhyme and accent? Surely worship should sound different than a schoolyard ditty!”

1100s: The perfection of new forms of Latin verse using rhyme and accent led to new mystical meditations on the joys of heaven, the vanity of life, and the suffering of Christ.

“This complicated, chaotic confusion is ruining the church!”

1200s: Starting in France, musicians began to discover the idea of harmony. The startling effect of the choir suddenly changing from the lone and sinuous melody of the chant to two-, three-, or even four-part music did not please everyone. One critic commented how harmony sullied worship by introducing “lewdness” into church.

“Don’t try to sing that hymn at home; leave it to the professionals at church.”

1300s: Worship in the great Gothic-era cathedrals and abbeys used choirs of paid professionals, “a church within a church,” sealed off by screens from the greater building. Ordinary people generally had no place in the spiritual life of these great buildings, except perhaps in the giving of their finances.

“It’s too loud, and the music drowns out the words.”

1400s: Music became increasingly complex (Gothic sounds for Gothic buildings), prompting criticisms that only the choir was allowed to sing. As reformer John Wycliffe had complained, “No one can hear the words, and all the others are dumb and watch them like fools.”

“They want us to sing in today’s language. Shouldn’t God-talk be more special than that?”

1500s: The new prayerbook, pushed by King Henry VIII of England decreed that all services would be in English, with only one syllable to each note.

“Now they’re putting spiritual words to theater songs that everyone knows.”

1500s: Martin Luther set about reforming public worship by freeing the mass from what he believed to be rigid forms. One way he did this was by putting stress on congregational singing. He used hymns and music already familiar to the majority of people in Germany.

“Okay, men on verse 2, ladies on verse 3, and the organ on verse 4.”

1600s: The organ played an important part in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism, while in the Reformed churches there was much opposition to it. Initially the organ was not used to accompany congregational singing, but had its own voice. As a result, the organist would often play a verse on the congregation’s behalf.

“Our children will grow up confused, not respecting the Bible as an inspired book.”

1700s: Isaac Watts gave a great boost to the controversial idea of a congregation singing “man-made” hymns, which he created by freely paraphrasing Scripture. Charles Wesley paraphrased the Prayer Book, and versified Christian doctrine and experience. Wesley’s songs were said to have had at least a great as influence as his sermons.

“Their leader is just asking for trouble when he says, ‘Why should the devil have all the best music?'”

1800s: William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, used rousing melodies with a martial flavor to set the tone for his Army. He is credited with popularizing the “why should the devil” question referenced above.

“These Christian radio quartets are on a slippery slope. Don’t they realize that the airwaves are the domain of Satan, ‘prince of the power of the air’?” (Eph. 2:2).

1900s: When radio was in its infancy, a handful of Christian pioneers such as Donald Grey Barnhouse and Charles E. Fuller began featuring gospel music and evangelistic teaching over the airwaves. Many Christians initially showed skepticism.

“Christian Rock is an oxymoron. The music of the world must not invade the church.”

1970s: Larry Norman sang, “I want the people to know, That He saved my soul, But I still like to listen to the radio…They say that rock and roll is wrong…I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong and I don’t confuse it: Why should the devil have all the good music…’Cause Jesus is the Rock and He rolled my blues away.” He founded what became known as Contemporary Christian Music… and it is still controversial today.



As you can see, music has played a central, but contentious role through out church history. There is no reason to believe the disagreements will stop any time soon. Being aware of the changes and movements of the past, however, should encourage us to be more humble about our own preferences and more open to other styles of music used to worship God and point people to Christ.

photo credit: Photon Phisher


Through a Child’s Eyes-Song

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4

Sometimes our perspective on life gets tainted. We can’t see through the glass clearly anymore. God becomes like a faint memory of something good or bad, a dusty figurine packed away with all the other moments that we’ve partly suppressed as the past. Having children is a constant reminder of the simplicity with which I once held faith, before I understood that – intentions run deep.

I get so frightened when my 6 year old daughter asks me about God. She still thinks of God as someone simple, someone there, not someone there only when others are not.

It’s like I’m hiding a secret from her, that my childlike faith, her childlike faith may turn into a grown up mess searching for answers in all the wrong places. I wrote this song recently, after my daughter made a simple, childlike comment about God. I do not even remember what the comment was now, but I remembered God saying that unless we come to him as children, we will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. This, in other words, was a prayer for God to show me the keys to the Kingdom.


Cycle of Beauty in Praise

During every choir rehearsal I am filled with awe at the beauty of song. Every single melody is like an infinite praise rolling off our tongues, a gift of word to tune that we sing back to God. The song, the instrument, the breath that gives voice to our hopes and dreams and sorrows, these are all God’s. The beauty, the pain, the pain made beautiful against the backdrop of God’s grace, these are all timeless tributes to something eternal, those places from within that God let’s us display as an outward appearance of his love. My heart swells and my eyes tear. I’m brought back to my senses at the toil and note by note, out in the fields labor that turn solos–our individual stories, into anthems, stock full of harmony, for a choir to sing.

And I’m reminded of the Biblical account of Leah and Rachel. Leah with her tear stained eyes, always the one working harder, hand to the spindle trying to earn love. Rachel, right in the center of being the chosen one, beautiful and singled out from the beginning, a product of someone else’s hands calloused by desire unfulfilled. And it’s a cycle, a failure turned inside out for God’s glory. Both part of an equation, of a longing that is deeper than today, this moment that ties us all to the frenzy of finding that perfect parking spot, close enough to where we want to be, but far enough away from others who might dent or scratch our exterior–the shell of how we want to be seen. Buffed to the shine for our own glory. When will we sing to God and not to man? How will we learn our part, take our place, fill our roles–stop preoccupying ourselves with the distraction of our performance, the carefully labeled parts that we put together with or without directions, stray bolts, screws, pieces missing, somehow managing to stand, to resemble the whole of what we were purchased with a price to become? These are all the same words, similar stories, rearranged to our tune, the tune that we know best, the one that we hum when we’re alone, the notes that have no place, wander around in our kitchen until they find their home in our hearts, in our minds these melodies to Jesus.


To those who’ve Lost your mom….

My adopted daughter, Nina, wrote a poem about her biological mother, Justine. I made it into a song. I still have my mother, but for those of you who’ve already lost your mom — this song is for you. We just got back from Disney, and I screamed on a ride or two, so please excuse the scruffiness of my voice. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, both biological & adoptive!!

You gave life to me
gave a start to destiny
now I know
There’s no other love like yours
After all I received
the day you conceived
I miss you
I miss you mom
Your love was complete
gave me everything I need
Now I wish
I could tell you all those things
I should have said more
all the things I’m sorry for
I miss you
I miss you mom
The day you said goodbye
left me here to wonder why
and who would be my shoulder
to cry on
I dream about those times
of lullabies and rhymes
I miss you
I miss you mom
Do you hear my voice
If I only had one choice
I’d give you life
just like you gave to me
You said you’d never leave
but I know it’s destiny
I miss you
I miss you mom
I’d give you all you missed
if I only had one wish
I’d hold back all the clouds
up in the sky
with days as bright as the sun
We’d play and run
I miss you
I miss you mom


Moving outside the Inner Circle of Praise & Worship

First, let me say that this is not a #HipHop or #MusicReview website.  Just want to spread the good news and I’ve come across some very talented artists who are using their talents for GodOverMoney (godovermoney.com) .  I know a lot of people will be cynical about whether it’s REALLY all about “God Over Money” but you HAVE to start somewhere.  You have to take that first step to walk on water.  If we get excited about God doing miracles in our career and start sinking…..instead of judging us, just help us get back in the boat so we can continue to minister to a world hungry for something that fills.  ~praiseandworshipsongs.net

Anna Esther ‏@gOOgleOrGod 19h
#praiseandworshipmusic is for those already in the “inner circle.”
What about those on the outside?
So, truly–what about those on the outside?
Those who don’t know what it means to worship Christ.
Those who only know how to worship money, sex and fame.
Those of us who are lukewarm, with one foot in Christianity and one foot out.
Let’s remember to be music missionaries, not just music ministers!

“Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to everyone.”

This album (The Good Fight by Bizzle) preaches! Praise God from whom ALL BLESSINGS flow.

Purchase tracks and spread the good news!
Buy on ITunes
Buy on Amazon

“This site has no affiliation with Bizzle.” Just want to help “multiply the loaves & fishes” as heard in sermon by @BrynWaddell


A Mother’s Morning

Once you become a mother, your mornings are never the same again.
It’s like boot camp morning for the rest of your life.  And this is life.
Or maybe this too shall pass.
I know that father’s lives change too, but I’ll leave that to the fathers to discuss.
You see, once a mother, your mornings are no longer your own.
When you don’t have any children, and you wake up in a bad mood, you can kind of glide through your morning, avoid people, and hope that soon enough your mood will improve before you start taking your anger out on others.
But once you’re a mother, getting up in the morning, is no longer just a matter of rolling out of bed and taking care of yourself–making sure your hair is straight, brushing your teeth, fixing yourself a cup of coffee and waiting for your chipper self to show up.
And I miss those days.
Those days where I can wake up and stare into space as I follow my morning routine.
I’ve never liked to talk in the morning, much less yell.
But now it’s required.  It’s a pre-requisite to the day.
You see, I hadn’t prepared the night before.  I left the dirty dishes from dinner.
I ignored the mess my children had made,
the very same mess I’d already cleaned up 5 times already that day.
And just couldn’t bare to bend over one more time.
Surely the toys can spend one night out of their bin.
So I spent a while on Twitter practicing that blank stare I miss so much,
watching, but not really, the updates roll over the screen.
But I really couldn’t relax, because I wondered what people were thinking of me.
A mother not doing her chores yet yelling at her children for not doing their chores.
But I mindlessly updated my Twitter status instead of sweeping, scrubbing floors, laying out school clothes for the next day, checking homework and folding clothes.
In-between, yet again yelling at my children to go back to bed,
thinking that surely it was time for a Super Nanny intervention,
or better yet, a revelation from God about what I’m doing wrong as a mother.
And then the morning came again.
Full throttle, shocking, feet on the cold floor morning.
Your mornings will never be the same again, from the time you birth that first child.
Sometimes, I start dreading my mornings.
So bad that I want to run away and get a new morning.
I don’t want to wake up, because I know that my day will be dictated by serving others.
I secretly envy my teenage daughters who wake up and fix themselves something to eat, smelling like roses as they get ready to go to their college classes.
And I remember those days…the days when I only had myself to feed.
I’m hungry, but so is everyone else and they need to be fed from the moment they wake up.
Their hunger is insatiable and they love to say my name, “mommy.”
I don’t think I like my name anymore.
I don’t even think anyone in the house knows…
how much cream and sugar I like in my coffee.
But that’s another post for another time.
Good morning!
(Wonder if Mandisa has children?!?)……I love the song anyway 🙂