Keep Families Together…

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It is only when we begin to see our #children in those children and ourselves in those #parents being separated that we will #dosomething. Can you see your #kids in those kids? Can you see yourself in those parents? Well, if you can’t just know that it could’ve been you. And for those who see their #families in those families but feel powerless in the face of such evil, you are more powerful than you think. Please call 202-225-3121 to reach your US representatives and 202-224-3121 to reach your US senators. I am blessed to live in #Massachusetts where my entire #Congressional delegation has signed the #keepfamiliestogether act. In #ThisThingCalledParenting and at this moment in your #parenting, let it not be said of you #singlemom #singledad #mom #dad #grandparent #auntie #uncle that you did NOTHING!!! Do something!!! Attend a vigil in your city or town on support of immigrants. Run for office, as I am doing right now. Be an advocate for the voiceless. And for my fellow #Christians still in support of the #President you will be hard pressed to find scripture to support this atrocity. #GodIsWatching #OurKidsAreWatching #KeepFamiliesTogetherAct

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You Are Not “Just” a Mom!

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PhotoGrid_1526196413407You are not “just” a mom. You have the best and most important job in the world. I believe that most of the problems we are having in society today can be traced back to bad parenting. So you are NOT just a mom!!! You love, nurture, train, influence and shape our future. Our children are the future. A while ago, I was talking to a business woman who disagreed with my business approach, so she said to me, “You can say that because you haven’t done much else except just be a mom.” I burst out laughing and bit my tongue. What I really wanted to say to her in my mom voice was that: I’m an incredible mom, writer, journalist, story-teller, speaker, researcher, influencer, marketer, a wealth of information, an activist, a crusader, a feminist and a fierce advocate, etc… but I didn’t. Moms, sometimes you just have to hold your head high and let your fruit speak for itself! However, none of those titles hold a candle to my role as a mother. My highest honor is being a mom to my incredible daughter. I thank God for trusting me with being her mom. I consider it an honor and a privilege. I don’t let anyone tell me otherwise. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms, especially black single moms, who like me, who are often discounted. You matter, your kids matter, and YOU are shaping the future in so many beautiful ways. Don’t you dare let anyone tell you otherwise. ✊

Black Panther, A Movie Marvel

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As a #singlemom who’s had to navigate the waters of #parenting across cultures in the #diaspora, I cannot adequately articulate what #blackpanther means to me. My daughter must have been 4 years old when she ran up to me with a worried look on her face and asked, “Mummy, what kind of house did you grow up in, in Uganda?” I briefly described the homes we grew up in but before I could ask why she was asking, she breathed a heavy sigh of relief and exclaimed, “Oh, you have totally saved my life!” My puzzlement was eased when I looked at the television and saw that the program she was watching showed grass thatched houses, naked big bellied children, and mud houses which blended with the red dirt that had been used to build them, somewhere in Africa. I didn’t want those images to be the only images engraved on my daughter’s mind about Uganda. I immediately stopped what I was doing and dug up some family albums to show her pictures from my childhood, and to help her decipher the images she had seen. This marvel of a movie shatters all kinds of #stereotypes about Africa. It does so much for all kinds of people. But for me and for all YOU #singlemoms like me, it validates you! It sings your accolades! It puts a spring in your step and inspires you to keep bridging that divide between your roots in the #motherland and your new home in the #diaspora. I cried when I read my daughter’s post about Black Panther, which she has seen twice. She writes, “Thank you to this cast and creative team for producing something that I never realized I had been waiting for my whole life.” Our hearts are beyond full. With lots of love, respect, and gratitude, I #marvelsalute @danaigurira @lupitanyongo @letitiawright @im.angelabassett @chadwickboseman @danielkaluuya @michaelbjordan @sterlingkbrown #ForestWhitaker @andyserkis @winstoncduke @rmorrison @therealstanlee @ludwiggoransson @iamruthecarter @marvel THANK YOU for this beautiful film!!! #WakandaForever #MustSeeMovie #againandagain ❤✊🙅

My Valentine, My Heart, My Treasure…

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VDayWhen you’re a single mom, #Valentine’s Day is lovingly all about your #kids. One of my most treasured possessions is a #heart pin my #daughter made me one Valentine’s Day. When she was a young child, I intentionally romanced her heart. When she began reading the Bible on her own, together we learned to guard our hearts because out of them flow all the issues of life. In every situation, in #thisthingcalledlife, the heart of the matter is always #love, or a lack thereof. Indeed you may ask, “How do I love thee?” And Elizabeth Barrett Browning may respond, “Oh let me count the ways.” But I dare say that the purest form of love is found in Christ’s teaching on this matter of the heart; LOVE.

He teaches, “Love is #patient, love is #kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always #protects, always #trusts, always #hopes, always perseveres.”

In #ThisThingCalledParenting my daughter taught me that patience is a virtue. When I became a mom, I became kinder…how can you not be; kinder? I do not envy anyone because when I was a young child my mother told me that envy is a waste of time. She said, “Never try to be like anyone because you will never be like anybody else.” I believe envy comes from being discontent and not knowing who you are. My mother gave me the gift of contentment which I passed long to my daughter. Thanks mom!

I had to swallow my pride along my #parenting journey and apologize to my daughter when I treated her unfairly. When it comes to boasting, I boast in the Lord. I boast of His marvelous works and His hand over our lives recognizing that if it were not for His love, I would not be here today. Oh how it breaks my heart when I see parents dishonoring their children. An example of this is when parents publicly shame their children to correct behavioral problems and in the moment win a victory, but it is oh so fleeting a victory.

Being a mom quickly tackles the “self-seeking” heart issue as you quickly realize that in order to be a successful mother, you have to daily die to self. Gosh, it’s really all about your kids. Mom, I finally get it! Thank you for modeling what it means to be a selfless parent. Ahhh, the “not easily angered part,” I’m still working on. Sometimes when I get angry, I have to ask God to forgive me because if you know my daughter, you would know that I have nothing to be angry about. Infact, one of her high school teachers came up to me once and asked, “We all want to know, does Elizabeth ever get angry?” To keep from confessing that I have an almost perfect child I fibbed and said, “Well, yeeesss,” all the while rewinding and fast forwarding our lives looking for that angry memory of her but there was none. When he left, I felt so small for all the times I let myself get so easily angered over insignificant matters. God spoke to my spirit and told me to look at Elizabeth. I sigh and say be still my heart…still I look, watch and try to emulate.

By the way, how fun is it when you go to the freezer for an icecream bar only to find that the box is empty? Do you wonder why your child doesn’t throw out the box? Do you call her at school to let her know of the travesty? This past semester, while my daughter was back at uni, I found such an empty box. I left it in the freezer until Christmas break in order to demonstrate to her the feeling a mom gets when she thinks she has a Haagen Dazs bar but she doesn’t. We had a good laugh about it but besides that four month record of ‘wrong’ which I icily kept, we forgive one another and move on. There’s no greater joy than seeing your children rejoice in the truth of God’s love and strive to be love. I thank God for honoring me with the awesome responsibility of protecting my daughter and her heart. My heart is full of a love that always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

“I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach…I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life,” Browning.

Happy Valentines Day!!! Elizabeth, no matter how old you get, you’ll always be my Valentine, my Heart, my Treasure. I love thee!

He Opens Doors No Man Can Close…That’s Our God!

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Elizabeth's Speech at Georgetown

Back in the fall of 2014 when my daughter Elizabeth was applying to college, she sent only one application to Columbia University because it has a great International Relations program, it’s in New York City, which she loves, and has a comprehensive focus on global studies, a field that interests her tremendously. So off went her early decision application and there was no doubt in my mind that Columbia would be lucky to have my daughter; however, she received a rejection letter instead of the acceptance we had been eagerly awaiting. She shed a tear or two, we held hands and prayed together and the words that followed surprised me, “Mom, this just means that’s not where God wants me.” I marveled at her maturity and resolve to keep trusting God in the middle of such disappointment. Taking into account that children take their parents’ lead, I put my brave face on and said, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to be successful at the wrong college now would I?” We both burst out laughing because we have mastered the art of laughing at adversity.

We knew the road ahead would be treacherous. Elizabeth had put “all her eggs in one basket” as one friend had cautioned and now she had to go through the whole process of applying to college all over again (now with only two weeks left), writing and re-writing essays, supplements and going to more interviews. Anyone who has gone through this knows the kind of a headache it is. But I am so proud of her for keeping her eyes on Jesus and putting Him in the center of the process.

She then did something kids her age seldom do. She posted her rejection letter on Instagram and wrote,

Usually people share pictures of acceptance letters, degrees, awards, & certificates… But rarely does one see a rejection letter. So I thought I’d share one with you along with some heartfelt thoughts… 12.11.14, 5 pm. I have faith that an acceptance letter will be posted on my Columbia account but at 5:06 pm I read these words. Human nature– I shed a tear because I have been believing for this for a LONG time. With faith, I’ve fought through the critic battlefield where constant opinions were given and suggestions were made such as, “Applying to one school is silly…especially an IVY. You should try something more realistic.” The truth is, you and I live in a world that is SO numb to reality; the reality of War, Hunger, Brokenness, Feelings, and the reality of Christ in the here and now. I appreciate every word and piece of advice that is given to me, but I don’t see the reason in having to always “play it safe.” Why not have faith towards bold dreams? It is impossible to please God without faith– the evidence of that which we do not see yet. So in humbleness and confidence in Christ, I applied….and I was denied. But the good news to this story is that I have come out stronger. There is a peace that I feel because I know that no man can thwart God’s Will and if His Will was for me to receive a “No,” then I will trust and obey…because there is no other way to be happier in Jesus. 😊

Today, I pray that your strength and hope won’t fail. So many things are fighting for our attention and it takes one lie to convince you and me that we are not good enough. But Christ is enough and He says you and I are AWESOME in Him!!!

We have many plans, the Bible says, but it’s the LORD’S Will that prevails. When your dreams don’t turn out, develop the muscle that praises God in the midst of rejection and denial. With your consent and total dependence, God will lead you in His perfect direction. Just keep moving forward with Him. You were born to be a world changer… Don’t let anything convince you otherwise.

Xo.”

I was floored and my heart was full of joy. Parents came up to me and told me how they had read the post and cried and prayed for her, how she had encouraged their children and how extremely proud they were of the way she had handled the situation. That was the grace of God, His ability, working through her to re-assure her that He had this whole thing under control. She sent 10 applications out to: Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington College, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, American University, Harvard University, Boston University, Northeastern University and Princeton University. After ALLLLL that, our prayer was simple: That God would open doors no man can close and close the ones no man can open. We didn’t want to play any guessing games. “Make it plain and clear Lord,” was our cry.

More rejections, three acceptances, not to her top schools, but still, we believed. A few people we love and respect suggested that she take a gap year citing that they were the voice of reason and that the data showed that since she had been rejected from ‘target’ and ‘safety’ schools, the ‘reach’ aka IVY leagues would not accept her. To one person I said, “We have chosen to believe the voice of truth, and that the voice of truth tells us she will get into a great school.” Sometimes when you are standing on faith, it will look like craziness to some people. It will look ludicrous and just plain silly. And in that moment you have a choice. You have a choice to keep trusting God when things look bleak, or to give in to the voices around you. You have a choice whose voice you WILL believe.

I am happy to say that it pays great dividends to believe in God, in His promises and in His plan for your life. On March 30th, 2015, we learned that Elizabeth was accepted to Georgetown University. She received a full scholarship for Georgetown’s Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS). Her scholarship came with the prestigious 1789 Scholarship, in honor of the year Georgetown was founded, whose membership awards her blessings upon blessings…some of which we are still wrapping our heads around. The following day, she was wait-listed to Princeton University. Our hearts were full and she was proud to say that she would be attending Georgetown University. George Washington University accepted her as well with a generous scholarship. Two other acceptance letters followed. She wrote to each school that accepted her to thank them for their time, consideration, acceptance, and scholarships. I’m sharing our testimony to say that God opens doors no man can close and His plan for your children’s lives will prevail.

A week ago, at the Georgetown University President’s Event for Reunion Weekend, Elizabeth, who is now a junior in the SFS, had the awesome privilege of speaking to Georgetown Alumni about her incredible experience at Georgetown and how their continued engagement and giving paves the way for students such as herself. In Gaston Hall, which was filled with kind, passionate, and notable alumni and their spouses, including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, she spoke of the blessing it is to be a student on the Hilltop. We were reminded of the scripture in Proverbs that says your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men. One such great man is President John Degioia. Thank you, President DeGioia, for your exemplary leadership! Ours was an improbable dream, but God. We are extremely grateful for you and for the Georgetown Alumni who continually look back to invest in students like my Elizabeth, enabling them to look forward to a future filled with limitless possibilities. What a blessing! Thank You.

Family Traditions

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What family traditions are you passing down to your children? Growing up in Lungujja, a small suburb in Kampala, Uganda, our mom made sure that we learned proper etiquette especially at tea time, because anytime at our home was tea time. So after dinner one night, during this past Christmas Holiday, my sister Maureen and I threw our girls a tea party in honor of my youngest niece Charese, also known as my Reese Peanut Buttercup. The party invitations, calligraphed by my oldest niece Chloe, went out just before dinner to all of us in the house. It was a tad short notice but no one seemed to mind, especially the guest of honor who ran upstairs and quickly got dressed. The rest of us followed suit.

Our Christmas Holidays are all about the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and family traditions. I wanted to share one of those traditions with you. I hope you’ll share your family traditions with me. It blesses my and my sister’s heart, to be able to pass down these simple family traditions to the next generation of ladies, with pinkies up of course.

Well, at some point during the party, I was exhausted so I began slouching off…Reese didn’t say a word but straightened herself up as a hint to auntie dearest that I needed to do the same. We all sat up straight in unison, spoke with a deliberate lengthening of our vowels, and burst out in hearty laughter. She is so cute!!! Here’s hoping your Christmas was filled with all the things that make for beautiful family traditions and wonderful memories!

Our faith is not in faithless electors

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As electors gather in state houses across our great nation to cast their votes for our next president, our faith and hope should not be in faithless electors; our faith and hope should be in God. When I campaigned for Hillary Clinton, my hope wasn’t in her, my hope was in God, maker of heaven and earth. She was simply my candidate of choice, the most qualified and proven candidate.

Moms, dads, grandparents, when your children or kids question you about today, a day when men and women have the power to choose between a man who’s a racist, neo-nazi, misogynist, bigot, fascist and bully who brags about sexually assaulting women, and a woman who as Alexander Hamilton stated in the federalist papers is “in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,” teach them about the power of choice and the ramifications of our choices. Assure them that no matter how the electors vote today, God is in control. He chooses who reigns. In the NIV, Proverbs 8:15 says:

“By me kings reign
    and rulers issue decrees that are just.”


As you can see in this photo of my mom and me in front of the Massachusetts State House, I have my hakuna matata face on, because our faith is not in faithless electors. Our faith is, has been and will always be in God. I’ll quote my President, Barack Obama, on what should worry us as Americans, “What I worry about the most more than anything is the degree to which because of the fierceness, because of the partisan battle, you start to see certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being OK, because that’s how much we dislike Democrats.”

 

 

Mountaintop Faith

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mountaintopMatthew 17- 

19 When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” 20 “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

Jesus was speaking to men who had just seen sunshine pouring out of His face on the mountain top and yet they still did not believe. They had just seen Jesus’ clothes filled with light, and Him, having a conversation with Elijah and Moses. The first thing Peter could think about was to build a memorial. 4 “Peter broke in, Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?” Doesn’t this sound like us today? Let’s take a selfie or a picture to memorialize this moment, instead of focusing on the glory of the moment. I love what God says in Verse 5 “While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.” In listening to Jesus as He says that, “If you had a mere kernel of faith,” I believe He was just giving them a measure of what faith could do- that all it takes is a kernel. More than 2000 years later, we are stuck on the measure and quote this scripture for every problem we encounter. Actually, most of us, if we are honest, approach problems as mountains that must be moved. Does Jesus want us to move mountains? Yes, if need be, but I don’t believe that is what he was saying. He was giving them an example of what a kernel of faith could do, seeing that they were wondering why they couldn’t heal the demon possessed boy.

While theologians squabble about the exact location of the Mount of transfiguration, citing Mt. Hermon vs. Mt. Tabor, I believe amazing things happen on mountaintops notably: Mount Olive – where Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, Mt. Sinai – where God gave Moses the 10 commandments, Mt. Calvary – where Jesus died for our sins, Mt. Moriah – where King Solomon built his famous temple, Mt. Ararat – where Noah’s Ark rested during the flood, and Mount of Beatitudes – where Jesus gave his most powerful sermon. Martin Luther King Jr. said he had been to the mountaintop and seen the glory of God. Often times we look at life’s hardships and struggles as mountains we have to move, but if we climbed and conquered those mountains instead, we too would see the glory of God.

Therefore, as this pertains to parenting, (you know I always bring it back to parenting 😉 whatever mountains you and your children may be facing today, I encourage you to climb them because God is calling you to higher peaks of faith in Him. Don’t be so focused on the measure of faith that you lose sight of the giver of faith. The one whose thoughts, as Isaiah describes in chapter 55 verse 9, are higher than our thoughts and whose ways are higher than our ways. And because He has made us in His image, we are capable of thinking His thoughts. However, that higher level of thinking is not down in the valley, it is on the mountaintop. I believe that level of thinking requires us parents to go to new heights in God. That’s why I’m calling this Mountaintop Faith. Have you noticed how children believe they can do anything? Their faith is untainted by the worries and struggles of adulthood. In Luke 18:17 (MSG) “People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”

I am so grateful to God for a daughter who always pushes me to climb mountains. I hope in some ways, I have pushed her to climb as much as she has pushed me. Her faith daily challenges mine. I pray that no matter how old she gets, she never loses that childlike faith. And I try very hard as a parent, not to let my cynicism taint her simplistic acceptance of God’s kingdom. Do you ever catch yourself about to say something to your daughter or son, and realize you are being cynical and stop? Well, I do. I then make adjustments in my thinking and start climbing again. It’s a daily choice. The times when I actually say something that doesn’t align with God’s word, my daughter immediately calls me out on it. We have an iron-sharpens-iron kind of relationship where she has had the permission to call me out on valley thinking, ever since she was a small child. Daily, I have to remember not to focus on the measure of faith, but to keep my eyes on the giver of faith. Daily, I read my Bible so that God’s thoughts become my thoughts. You cannot know what God is thinking if you don’t read His word. Daily, I have to take captive every thought that doesn’t align with God’s word because I know it’s not of Him. It’s a constant battle of the mind. And so is mountain climbing.

When I climbed Mt. Monadnock, pictured here, my ascent was all in my mind. Every moment I thought I could do it, the ascent was effortless, but the moment I began to have thoughts of possibly not making it to the peak, the ascent became arduous. I mean, my legs burned, my heart raced, I got a muscle pull and I became so thirsty, river Nile would not have been enough to quench my thirst. So I did what any smart climber would do in that situation; I climbed the rest of Mt. Monadnock with my mind. The higher I thought, the higher I went, all the way to the mountaintop. I implore you and your children to climb your mountains because God is calling you to higher peaks of faith in Him. God is calling us all to Mountaintop Faith. What kind of faith will you choose? Will you choose Mountaintop Faith or will you choose to be stuck in the valley with a measure of faith?