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These Pastors Ain’t Loyal?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to the Rev. Jamal Bryant who once again finds himself embroiled in marital scandal. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: These Pastors Ain’t Loyal? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

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I have an inherent distrust of televangelists and pastors of mega churches.

And it’s not just because they’re stereotyped as snake charmers drawing in millions of followers with the false promise of health and wealth while seducing them out of their life savings. What I find most disconcerting is that oftentimes–and not every time, and not all of them–they’re peddling a gospel that is contradictory to the revealed Word of God. Contradictions that can be so subtle it’s hard to tell the difference until or unless you do as 1 John 4:1 says, “…Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Understanding that I have a tendency to see televangelists as false prophets, I prayed for the ability to step back and approach the story about pastor Jamal Bryant, who faces allegations of fathering a 10-month-old son out-of-wedlock, with unbiased eyes. The Rev. Bryant, leader of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple Church, hasn’t confirmed or denied the allegations, or the paternity test presented by alleged baby-mother Latoya Shawntee Odom suggesting that he is 99.9999 percent the father of her child.

While going down a rabbit hole of research about his ministry, I struggled to find a man who genuinely repented when he “fell short of the glory of God” the first time around: eight years ago when he had an extramarital affair that caused his divorce and brought to light the discrepancy between preaching and living.

Instead, I found a man whose woe-is-me attitude is as evident today as it was when he described, in this Roland Martin interview, his 29-year-old self who had the first affair: “I was quickly becoming a household name. So, nothing in my mind ever said, number one, I would ever get caught; number two, that my wife would ever leave; number three, that my church would tank out.”

After listening to clips of him speak and of his sermons–one of which quotes the lyric “These h-es ain’t loyal,” from the great Old Testament R&B singer Chris “Eat the Cake, Rihanna” Brown–I am saddened that everything screams “my ministry.” Where I was looking for God as the focus, all I saw was Him as a prop to shine the light on Bryant and his destiny. Although Bryant claimed years ago to have “grown a lot”, all I can see is the same sin and same arrogance. Nothing learned.

While he might not have learned anything, I pray his congregation will. As I’ve often asked God, please deliver me from ever setting You aside to follow a religion or a preacher.

 

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You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

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I’m a jerk.

And an ungrateful brat.

Rarely am I a spoiled little monster, but unfortunately, even I have my horrible moments. What happened? Here’s the short of it.

Preggos (a term of endearment, I assure you) have nothing on me when it comes to cravings. I’m sure I exited my mother’s womb yearning for a specific food item – likely chocolate chip cookies. Yesterday I had a hankering for a fresh, square mozzarella slice from a specific pizza shop some miles from our house. My husband, the loving and caring man that he is, went out of his way today to grab me a pie. He’d barely placed the box on the counter before I pounced on the waiting food – my taste buds savoring the cheese before I even opened the container.

“That’s not what I wanted!” I whined (loudly) with disappointment when I realized that a miscommunication had caused him to pick up the wrong type: a Sicilian instead of my fresh mooz. I slammed the box shut and stomped out of the kitchen like a two-year-old denied her favorite toy. I sat for a while on the couch nearly in tears until my grumbling stomach forced me back into the kitchen. I bit into the slice with anger, my bitterness poisoning the flavorful marinara sauce.

Clearly I overreacted. But at that moment I couldn’t see past not getting my way. Selfish. I know.

I’ve since apologized to my husband for my tantrum but I can’t help but be ashamed of my behavior. As a Christian, I carry the name of Christ, and as such I am to bear good fruit. Galatians 5:19-21 state “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” The good fruit that I am to bear are noted in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

While this incident may simply seem like a momentarily lapse in good manners, it’s more than that to me. How can I be an effective witness to my husband (an unbeliever) if my actions are out of sync with Christ’s teachings? No matter what we tell someone about Christ, they’ll only believe us if our actions match our words. While I know God will forgive this sin, I can’t help but be saddened that I embarrassed Him with my behavior. That I misrepresented His name and His character. That I missed an opportunity to show my husband how those who bear the name of Christ are equipped to handle disappointments – especially the silly, minor ones that mean nothing in the grand scheme of life.

Well, there you go. Now you know I’m not perfect. Not that I believe any of you ever thought so.

What about you? Have you ever taken a misstep in your walk with Christ? Or have you ever behaved in a way that you immediately regretted? Sharing is caring.

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Sausage and Herb Stuffing: Thanksgiving Recap.

Anyone in a food coma? I was pretty good today only eating a single serving of each dish — well, dessert doesn’t count.

Had a lovely dinner (is it dinner when you eat at 3ish?) with my in-laws (♥ them!). Sis-in-law made her amazing mashed potatoes and mom-in-law made her smack-your-mama-tasty pumpkin pie. I made the laughable version of Barefoot Contessa’s sausage and herb stuffing. I was so careful to follow the recipe and it still didn’t come out like hers. In fact I had to add more chicken stock after it baked for 30 minutes because one cup was just not enough. I was very disappointed with the dish but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. It was great to see my father-in-law go for seconds.

Here’s a pictorial recap of my day. Would love to hear about yours, or just about your day if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. This is the WORLD Wide Web, after all, and not just the AMERICA Wide Web. 🙂

Night.

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Prep Ingredients

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Final Dish1

Thanksgiving Table

pie a la mode

mom-in-law's pumpkin pie

oreo cake

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Thanksgiving Manners.

Show me a Haitian without manners and I’ll show you the devastated parents and grandparents wondering where they went wrong.

To “old school” Haitians a person’s manners (or lack of) is a direct reflection on the family that raised him/her. Good manners is indicative of a loving home with parents who cared enough to teach right from wrong. Bad manners…well, bad manners signals a need for pity. It elicits a shake of the head followed by a “podyab” or a “poor baby”. Bad manners is proof that you were dealt an unfair lot in life.

Which is why, even though we’re adults, my mother would still take a switch to our behinds if my siblings and I ever forgot how we were raised. God forbid we should walk into a room without properly greeting those already there, or we should ever stay seated while an elderly person stands nearby. We’d better be quick to explain that we offered and the person declined.

Tomorrow D and I head to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving, and one of the many things I’m thankful for is my mother teaching me that you don’t visit someone’s home empty handed. So along with cake and ice cream, we are bringing the stuffing. Stuffing that I’m making – and NOT from a box.

O.o

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know this is laughable. Manners I have in abundance, but my cooking skills are in short supply. *Shrugs* I didn’t learn everything my family tried to teach me. We’ll see how this turns out. I’ll post the final product here.

Are you cooking? Share what you’re making. Pictures are always invited.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – and don’t forget the ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’.

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11 + 22 = 33 (My Birthday!)

Today’s birthday theme was “things I like”. My husband was sweet enough to plan a day of activities that I would enjoy. I managed to take pictures of only the places below, unfortunately, as I’m still learning my new phone. Thankful to be blessed with another year, and grateful to have a partner who cares about my happiness. Happy birthday to anyone else out there celebrating! #Twinsies

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Christmas ❤ is real!

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Spicy chicken (no pickle), waffle fries and cookies and cream milkshake—-yummmmm!!!

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Losing My “Woman” Crown

Today I brought dishonor and shame to generations of Haitian women – at least the ones in my family. I maligned the good name and character of those who lived long ago and those who live today. I insulted my great-grandmother and the great-grands before her, my grandmother, my aunts, my mother and my older sister (though she’s older by just a couple of years). I disrespected all of my female relatives who pride themselves on caring for their men, their families and their homes.

What’s worst? I don’t care. That’s right. I don’t. I’m free of caring. I’ve agonized over taking this step for the last two years. Vacillating between the stress it would reduce on the one hand and the stress it would cause on the other. Today I decided I can handle the anxiety of not feeling like a loving and caring wife, a nurturer, a potential mother. If it means getting back a few extra hours of precious time, I can forfeit the title of “Proper Haitian Woman”. Not that I was ever really in the running. You can’t be crowned Ms. America without the basics of beauty, talent and poise. And you can’t be crowned Ms. Proper Haitian Woman without the most basic of basics: knowing how to cook a delicious meal.

And you lose any chance of the crown when you do what I did today: hire someone to clean your home.

Well, women of my family, there it is. I’ve failed to be the proper Haitian woman you all worked so hard to make me. While you did it – and did it well – when I was growing up, I’d rather not follow in your footsteps. I don’t want to work 10-12 hours and then come home to cook a fresh meal, scrub, mop and dust. It’s honorable, but it’s not the path for me.

Before you complain that I’m wasting money, may I remind you that the value of time can never be measured. Yes, we’ll have to rearrange our budget to fund a once or twice a month cleaning, but it’s worth it. I am your granddaughter, daughter, sister, and niece. I know how to make a few dollars go a long way. Bring on a week of eating plain spaghetti if it means D and I can spend quality, stress-free time with one another on the weekends. Time we don’t have on weekdays because of our work schedules.

So, family, here’s my crooked ruler. Use it to measure me so I won’t fall so short. Not that I care. Well…maybe a little.

joy-of-cartoon pictures

joy-of-cartoon pictures

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