Delores Winans on Marriage, Faith and Family
Exclusive interview with the mother of BeBe, CeCe and the rest of the Winans brood
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What's your advice for today's busy working mothers?
We were always in church together as a family. This was the most important thing with me and with my husband: God was always first. That's what we taught the children.
My message to parents now is that it's very important, but you don't see it as much as in my day. I'm afraid we see the fallout from it. Everything you can think of is on TV and the Internet. They're learning a lot of things that they should not be learning at such an early age.
The Bible says (Proverbs 22:6), "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That way, they know right from wrong and are hesitant to do wrong. A lot of children are missing that.
But it's never too late. God is always there. I don't care what you've done and how you've done it. If you want to do better, he's always there to help you.
I see hope. A lot of people are waking up. It's been a very grievous time for me because I haven't seen parents teaching their children the right way. That is our guide to survival. I'm seeing a lot of them going back to the Bible now as the basis for their children, and that makes me happy.
How is faith your guide to survival?
I can look to a God who knows the outcome of everything, and I don't have to be worried when all these things are coming up. It's a scary world out there now if you don't have the Lord, but if you have the confidence of his word and you look to him for everything, you don't feel hopeless. You have hope. God gives you answers.
One scripture (Hebrews 11:6) says if you "believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." I definitely believe that the Bible is inspired by God. If you put your faith in God, you can see that he never fails you.
I lost my second oldest son, Ronald. At 50 years old, he died of a massive heart attack. I realized then that (God) was who he said he was. He gave me peace. And even before that, with my oldest son at age 13. His appendix burst, and the doctors only gave him a 50-50 chance to live.
I was surrounded by prayer and the prayers of the saints. The doctors were amazed that he came through it fine. (God's word) has proven itself over and over again.
What's your advice to those dreaming of singing gospel music?
I have to always refer to the Lord, and when you, say, have that dream to sing, you have to love it yourself. You can't just get into it for the monetary advantage or looking to make yourself a star or a celebrity.
We did it because we love singing gospel and living for the Lord. That would be my advice: to love what you're doing and do it for the Lord. He makes the way and opens the doors.
You were married 55 years. Any advice?
Marriage is a very serious thing. You make a vow not only to one another, but you make a vow to God. There is a scripture (Ecclesiastes 5:5) that says it's better not to make a vow than to make it and break it. Also, God hates divorce.
Marriage is something you have to work at. The Bible is your guide. It tells the husband how to treat the wife, the wife how to treat the husband and how to treat the children. Sometimes, we want to be selfish. But you have to do things to please your husband or your wife.
My husband and I were very different, but I had to learn to love or tolerate some of the things he loved, and he had to do the same with me.
My husband didn't want to go to the mall, and the first time I had him going with me, I said, "We don't do so good together at the mall. I'll go by myself." I tell women, "Don't get mad at him. Just do it yourself." I've learned patience. My husband would start painting one room, but he might leave … and not finish. That could make me so angry. I learned to paint myself so I could finish up things. Sometimes we have to compromise. We have to give and we have to take. That way you keep love alive.
Your grandson, Michael Jr., was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme. He sold millions in fake Saudi oil bonds to church folks who hoped to get rich quick. They trusted him because of his family's name and reputation. Your thoughts?
It's a disappointment. (The younger generation is) not always so quick to listen. I know my grandchildren pretty well, and they've all been brought up in church. But a lot of times, their parents aren't as hard as we were. I'm not blaming them for any of this at all, but a lot of times you tell them something that doesn't look good, or don't do that, and they feel, "Well, it looks OK," and they're not as careful as you want them to be.
(Michael) got pulled into something and wasn't listening and got involved. When I heard about it, I warned him against it. Adults … have a responsibility to search things out before you give your money out and find out where it's going.
I believe his sentence was too harsh. (Michael) has never been involved in anything (illegal). I was very hurt that the judge gave him the sentence that he did, and I'm hoping he can appeal. I am praying that the Lord will turn him around … so that he does not have to spend all that time in prison.
There's been delay in completing construction of the new Perfecting Church at Seven Mile and Woodward, even though Oprah came in town for fundraising and the "A Time to Build" campaign has continued for years. What lesson can delays teach us?
Waiting on God's timing teaches us patience. Even though you get anxious, you just learn to wait. That's a good lesson … for all of us. We're eagerly looking forward to getting in there, hopefully by the end of this year. We're praying to that end.
You and your husband enjoyed appearances on TV shows such as "The 700 Club" and "Praise the Lord" on Trinity Broadcasting Network. After he died in 2009, his funeral was standing-room only at Marvin's 1,900-seat Perfecting Church. How have you handled grief?
I missed him so much after he died, but it was almost like he was still living. We talked about him so much and laughed. We still talk about him like he's alive. If something happens, we'll say, "What does Daddy say about this?" He had diabetes and we'd tell him, "You can't eat that." He'd say, "I can eat whatever I want to. I'm ready to go."
We miss him and we wish he could have lived longer. It was a long, happy, full life. I have no great regrets. Losing my husband was like losing part of (myself). I'd find myself crying, thinking about the things we did together, but then I'd find myself laughing about some of the things he would say.
Such as when you were honored for your 50th wedding anniversary at the 2003 Essence Awards? You and Pop were on stage, and you were talking about being blessed with your marriage and kids. Pop kept saying, "Let me talk!" and the crowd roared.
That's him! (laughing.) When I say "one of a kind," that's the kind of the thing we still laugh at. We had some wonderful times!
What are your feelings on Mother's Day?
Mothers need a time to be appreciated. Being a mother can sometimes-—especially in the early years—be what looks like a thankless job. And it is a job, and not one that gets a paycheck. It is quite a responsibility if you're going to be a real mother to your children. It's a wonderful thing to honor mothers, because they're really the keeper of the home.
I'm the mother of Perfecting Church, and I still speak and sing. I've been called to be a mother to a lot of people who need advice and show them a better way. I'm just here to do whatever the Lord has for me to do, until he calls me home.