In 2006, Oprah Winfrey gathered sixty women to her home for three days of honoring, loving, thanking and blessing.  She called this event, her “Legends Ball”.  The weekend was made up of Legends— African American women such as Diana Ross, Ruby Dee, and Coretta Scott King—women who modeled grace, courage, wisdom, and passion for the next generations of African-American women.  Our representatives as the “young-uns” at this event were talented and intelligent women such as Alicia Keys, Halle Berry, and Tyra Banks.


According to Oprah, heaven took place in her living room.  I believe it!  When women come together to bless and encourage one another, hearts are healed.

Shalom happens.

Heaven touches earth.

This is what happened when I began to study the women in Jesus’ ministry.  These women, my Legends, if you will blessed and encouraged me with their stories.

As the unwed and pregnant “on fire” girl, shame was everywhere except in the pages of their stories and at the feet of our Jesus. Which is why this part of my story belongs my Legends and my Jesus. 

Not the accusers. Not the naysayers who told me that my baby was a mistake. Not even my well-meaning, but naïve friends who treated me like a project and not a person.

The women whose lives were changed when they met Jesus became my tribe when the tribe of the “on fire and anointed” subtly condemned me. Revealing to me that God’s essential character is other-oriented and sacrificially loving, these women’s stories gave me the confidence to run to the cross whenever I felt unloved and unseen. They helped me view God through the lens of Jesus.

Which leads me to today’s Campfire Conversation, “Friend, who do you see when you see God?

Jesus said, “if you’ve seen the father you’ve seen me”, but whenever I imagined God, I didn’t see Jesus.

Before the Holy Spirit used these women’s stories speak to me, I would describe God as angry, violent, glory mongering, and capricious.

I saw a disappointed father shaking his head— forced into loving me because he’s the Creator, but itching to distance himself from me because he is holy.

I didn’t see Jesus resting his hand on my head saying, “woman, your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more”.  I felt the shame of not living up to the expectation of a divine bookkeeper who hovered over me, clutching a checklist with all his requirements to be acceptable, and eventually finding me too far gone to forgive.

I didn’t hear Jesus saying, “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her”. I saw God ripping away my calling into to full time ministry the moment the second line came into view on the EPT screen.

I didn’t see Jesus sacrificially loving me as he gave his life on the cross.  I saw God sitting on his throne like an evil villain in silent movie, twirling his mustache, orchestrating heartbreaks and smashing dreams with an unplanned pregnancy.

I didn’t see the cross as God’s greatest act of love for his creation he so desperately wanted to be reconciled to, no, the cross was a tool for God to expend his wrath.  God is so incredibly angry at the world that he had to torture and punish Jesus in the most excruciating way possible, until he was satisfied.  I had this picture of God as a rage-a-holic, not a loving, devoted husband. 

Who do you see when you think of God?

On the bathroom floor when the fourth set of “positive” lines came into view, I finally admitted that didn’t trust God because I was terrified of him. More specifically, I was terrified of the God portrayed in the following verses taken when out of context:

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:15-16


I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
(Isaiah 45:7)


“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. . . . “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
(Job 1:21-22; 2:10)

The months to follow as I suffered the exclusion and shame of being an “on-fire” girl “with child”, Jesus used the women in his ministry to renew my mind and give me a new picture of God—one that wasn’t terrifying but completely loving. One that was beautiful and accessible. One that was in line with Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is the one and only perfect revelation of God’s true nature.

An interesting thing happened when I accepted this renewed picture of God who looked like Jesus— I began to look more like Him.  If it’s true that we become whom we behold, then I was becoming more like Jesus even in my sinful, unwed and pregnant state. That’s amazing grace.

And the Women who loved Jesus, my Legends were instrumental in this transformation.

In the next post, part two of Osheta’s Legends Ball, I’ll share what each woman taught about our God with a with a little poem loosely based on the poem from the clip,  “We Speak Your Name” by Pearl Cleage.

Praying for Shalom in our Picture of God,