“…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…”
Happy New Year!
Typically, around this time of year many set goals or make resolutions. A lot of churches like to start the year off with the Daniel Fast which usually lasts about 21 days or some just take the entire month of January. And of course, there are those “new year, new me” or “new year, same me” social media posts, and those who make declarations about who and what has been cut out of their lives. The point is this is a time of new beginnings for many.
As the months go by, many fall off the wagon and give up on their goals. Life happens and plans change. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Does that mean we should not plan or set goals? Absolutely not. It means we must be in alignment with God’s will for our lives. Our goals and desires come from God. Not us. So if things are not working out, then it may be time for a realignment. Examine your motive behind the goals you set. Were the goals set out of selfish ambition or out of the need to fulfill a calling or purpose? When you are not in alignment with God’s will for your life, you will continue to meet with failure. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Got the swag bag.
One of my favorite songs is Moving Forward, written by Ricardo Sanchez and recorded by Israel Houghton. The chorus says,
“You make all things new.
And I will follow you forward.”
We don’t have to wait until the new year to make changes in our lives. We can make a change at any moment. The time does not matter. All that matters is that we are moving forward. Things may not happen on the timeline we desire, but if we are in the will of God, they will happen. “…no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
Keep pressing. You’ll get there if it’s in God’s will.
Happy New Year!
 Psalm 84:11
Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The holiday season is upon us, and I have already overplayed the Temptations’ infamous gospel version of Silent Night!
I have always loved this time of the year! Like most, my love for the season started during childhood. I remember the Christmas I got my Nintendo NES™ and my Barbie™ Rock Cafe. But more than the gifts, I LOVED the family gatherings at my grandparents’ house where everyone would come! My Family gatherings are exactly like those portrayed in the hilarious #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies on Twitter™!
As the years have passed, family gatherings have changed, especially in light of COVID. My parents’ house has now become the gathering place as the former generation are now gone. While there is a new generation gathering at the table, the absence of those who have gone on to glory is still felt. I swore off sweet potato pie for years after my grandmother died because no one could make it like her. But we honor the memory of our ancestors and still know they are with us as we look at each other. Their blood runs in our veins and we look like them. Plus, some of the secret recipes are still in the family.
Being active duty, I cannot make it home to every family gathering and that saddens me at times. But my understanding of family has evolved. Family is not limited to the biological. My family has actually increased. I may not always get to go home for the holidays, but I never have to be alone because I have a global family that will take care of me thanks to the military. These are the things that give me comfort and hope.
The holidays mean different things to everyone and can trigger a host of emotions. However, I pray one of those emotions is faith. This holiday season, I pray that you will have the faith to believe that good days are ahead. You do not have to wait until the New Year to make a resolution. Resolve now to have faith that even if things are not the way you want them to be, at the right time, the path forward will be revealed and your circumstances will change. Remember, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Have faith!
We are very quick to cancel people. Even celebrities that died long ago are not safe. Cancel culture is nothing new. There is a story about a man named Zacchaeus who lived in a Palestinian city called Jericho around 30 C.E. Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector; the chief tax collector to be exact. The citizens perceived tax collectors as greedy, collaborators with the Roman government. Therefore, by Zacchaeus being a tax collector, he was helping to oppress his own people. He was a traitor, a literal sell-out! Therefore, the community cancelled him. Ironically, in Greek, Zacchaeus means “pure.”
Even though Zacchaeus had become very wealthy and wielded much power, he was still unfulfilled. He needed his community. One day, an influential religious leader came to town and served as a mediator between Zacchaeus and the community. He reminded both parties that Zacchaeus is still part of the family, regardless of what he had done. As a result, Zacchaeus repented of his ways and offered to repair the wrong he had done to his people. The process of reconciliation had begun.
Being human is complicated. We all have the potential for great good and evil. At some point, we will all be the villain in somebody’s story, especially if you are in leadership. If we keep cancelling people at this present rate, who can stand? Instead cancelling people, we should be working on reconciliation. We can lovingly hold our family members accountable for their errors in judgement without excommunicating them. Afterall, does cancellation really help or does it create deeper resentments?
We will all be villains in somebody’s story; deservingly and undeservingly. I suggest when it comes to cancel culture, we treat others the way we want to be treated rather than how we think they should be treated. Afterall, you could be next on the chopping block.
 Luke 19:9
 Matthew 7:12
1 Corinthians 12:25-26
(New King James Version)
25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
I am guilty of what I am about to discuss.
At this past symposium, every time we took pictures, we could not just take a single service picture. We continued to divide ourselves into groups to take more photos: Divine Nine, HBCU, Athletes, Senior Officers, Baptist, Buddhist, Nation of Islam, etc. As of the writing of this article, plastered across the top of my Facebook page is a picture of my Spelman sisters and me. In the midst of the multiple photo sessions, I suddenly realized we have multiple affinity groups within an affinity group.
Where does it stop?
I started to get convicted about this as the days went on and, to be honest, it got ridiculous to me after a while. I noticed how some people did not fit into any of the myriad of groups we continued to break ourselves into and we started excluding each other. It made me wonder in what ways do we practice marginalization even within an organization that makes us feel marginalized?
I understand the history of the various organizations we represent and why they were created. They are institutions of empowerment for marginalized people. I understand why we need to celebrate and be proud of the Afro-Asian-Latina/o-Indigenous diaspora and all its components.
I know we are not a monolithic group. We are as diverse as any other group of people, which is what makes the world so rich, but we must be careful not to perpetuate the same unconscious bias and cronyism that has been used to justify discrimination.
We are all members of the Sea Services regardless of race, gender, faith, sexual orientation, or whatever way one chooses to be defined.
NNOA’s stated mission is:
To enhance Sea Service operational readiness by supporting recruiting, professional development, and retention in an effort to achieve a diverse officer corps that reflects the demographics of our Nation
The first line under our Guiding Principles states:
- A professional organization comprised of active duty, reserve, retired officers, and civilians that seek diversity and inclusive membership
If we truly want to embody diversity and inclusion then I truly believe we must be a unified, equitable body.
I am not saying it is wrong to celebrate the things that make us who we are. We can celebrate the internal diversity that we have. It is needed. We can be proud of the many cultures and institutions that helped shape us into who we are today. But it cannot be to the exclusion of others. All must feel like valued members of the body. All parts of the body are necessary, and one is not greater than the other.
When we are together as NNOA, we need to focus on being one body.
Just something to think about.
By Lieutenant Commander R. Kamille Williams, U.S. Navy | September 19, 2022
“I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.”
That is the last line of the Sailor’s Creed.
The word creed is from the Latin word credo which means “I believe.” The Sailor’s Creed is supposed to articulate what we believe as sailors. We are sailors first. We are not our racial, gender, or ethnic classification. We are sailors. Too many within the ranks hold onto their individual identities and tribes outside of the Navy. Even within the Navy, too many base their identity around their rating, community, and rank. There is not one cohesive sailor identity.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Luke 14: 11
11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
If you’ve ever been on a ship, then you may know there is a space called the wardroom, or the officer’s mess. In the wardroom, typically there is one long table in the middle. On larger ships there may be smaller tables around the outskirts of the room. Also, typically there is reserved seating for the Captain and Executive Officer. To my knowledge, beyond the captain and executive officer, there is no assigned seating at the table. But there may be some unspoken assigned seats.
My first ship was the USS HARPERS FERRY, an amphibious ship. It can hold around 900 Sailors and Marines; therefore, the Wardroom was a pretty good size. It had a long center table and four side tables and even a lounge area in the front that could hold about 20 people. I was a Lieutenant while serving on the USS HARPERS FERRY, so when I ate in the wardroom, typically I sat at one of the outer tables because I felt like I could relax and be more myself. But occasionally I sat at the long table. But there were some officers who ONLY sat at the long table. They would NEVER sit at the outer tables.
Some officers would enter the wardroom and then about-face out when the long table was full, even though the outer tables were available. The food is going to taste the same! On the other hand, I have seen officers enter the wardroom and begrudgingly sit at the long table, because the outer tables were full. This thing goes both ways.
In Luke 7, Jesus was invited to dinner at the house of a religious leader. Some other prominent guests were there, as well. When they all began to sit down Jesus noticed how they all tried to sit in the places of honor. He then tells them a parable encouraging them not to take the place of honor lest they be humiliated by being asked to move so that someone else can sit there. Instead, they should sit in the lowest place so that they can be called up and honored in front of everyone. He ends the parable stating, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus is trying to teach them humility. We cannot allow our egos to get so big that we think we always must be at the top of everything. It is not wrong to get awards and acknowledgments. But your motive should not be about recognition and prominence. Do things with unselfish motives and let the recognition be the byproduct.
Chaplain Kamille Williams