Saturday, November 28, 2015

Can These Dry Bones Live?

Being a “woman of a certain age” I often find myself evaluating my life. Have I done enough? Should I have done more? What’s next? Will my brows grow back? Ha! During one particular evaluation, I decided that I wanted to do more to empower myself and equip those around me with a more excellent way of life. So I went back to school and started a new job.
My new job leans heavily on teamwork. As the team leader, I am ultimately responsible for the overall success of my team. I cannot advance individually and we cannot advance as a team without everyone doing his or her part. While I love the notion of honing my leadership skills and motivating people to excellence, I am both excited and frustrated at the same time. I love watching the success of hard work, the visions and dreams that lead people to a better life, but I am also often frustrated with the complacency in mediocrity that allows others to remain in a daily struggle. Why do we dwell in a hopeless state of mind? Is there any way out?  It reminds me of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones.

In Ezekiel’s vision, he was in a valley of dry bones. God sat him down right in the midst so that he could see the bones all around him. The bible says that there were “very many of them in the open valley and they were very dry.” God asked Ezekiel if he thought the bones could live. If it were me, I would have shrugged, gave a side eye and neck roll, and said, Psh! Doubt it! (probably why I’m not a prophet, huh?) But Ezekiel left it to God, “O Lord God, you know.” It was at that point that God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. I can imagine his frustration in attempting to motivate people that did not want to be motivated, his struggle in trying to speak life to people who wanted to lie down and die, his anguish in striving to move people who were complacent in their current positions.

But God commanded Ezekiel the give the word of the Lord to the dry bones so that they may live.

Ezekiel obeyed God, and the dry bones came to life.

Friends, a lot is going on in our world today. Stress, frustration, disappointments, betrayals, and even the media can overwhelm us and cause us to wind up in a dry place. Toxic relationships and unfulfilled expectations can suck the life out of us and cause us to end up a mere shell of our former selves. Dry bones. In the midst of it all, I admonish you to speak the word of the Lord to the dry places of your life, allow it to saturate those dry bones and bring life.

Don’t give up on God. He has not given up on you. In Ezekiel 37:11-14, God assures Ezekiel that all hope is not lost because his Holy Spirit brings life. “I have opened your graves…..Then you shall know that I, the Lord have spoken it and performed it.”

Speak life.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Day My Daddy Died

My daddy died on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

I don’t know if there is anything that could have ever prepared me for that phone call. My sister was screaming and crying hysterically. Even though I knew what it meant, my denial of the possibility still wanted to hear the words. “Come home, he’s code blue! Come home now!” I tried to calm her. I tried to be the “adult.” But I just was not prepared for her to say code blue. She hung up. I waited.

As I sat on the side of the bed, confused and alone, I had no one to call. I could only wait. My husband was unreachable, my children were in school. I was 300 miles away. My sister called back, “They revived him, come home.”  A text from my brother. “Come home. It ain’t looking good.” I began to weep. Still in denial, I text my mom, “Do I need to come?” Her response was simple and painful. “Yes.” I was frozen on my bedside with the phone in my hand. My dad had been hospitalized before, they had never told me to come home. My brother called, it was the highly educated, wise, personable, doctor that we had all liked and trusted throughout dad’s illness on the line. I listened intently: “Your father went into full cardiac arrest and we have had to shock him 9 times. We have added a stint and a valve which do not seem to be working. We do not expect him to live the next 30 minutes. Don’t rush to come home. Take your time.” “Okay, thank you,” I replied, and hung up the phone. I fell off my bed onto the floor and wailed. I cried until my head hurt. Then I called my brother back. “Get me in the room!” I demanded. Through modern technology, I was able to see my daddy’s face. I told him I loved him, and it was okay to go if God was calling him to do so.

My daddy did not die that day.

A stellar athlete in his youth, my dad loved the game of baseball. He had taught me all aspects of the game, but the most important was what he taught me about hitting. “Gal, don’t you EVER stand in that box without swinging that bat. You ALWAYS go down swinging!” My daddy went down swinging. He defied the odds of the medical field and baffled his doctor. He was lucid, conscious and talking off and on for 8 days after the doctor gave him 30 minutes to live. I made it to his bedside, and stayed in the hospital with him around the clock his last days on Earth. During that time, everyone that was important to him came to visit and say goodbye. He was weak, and heavily medicated, but he was himself. He made us laugh and ticked off his nurse. Classic daddy. There was a lot of singing and praying, hugs and kisses. He would drift in and out of consciousness, but as a fierce competitor, he would often ask me his condition. I would tell him he was doing good. “I’m doing good?” “Yes, daddy, you’re doing good.” “OK baby.” The day I left, he had been taken off all forms of life support. He was breathing on his own and his heart was beating on its own. As I walked out of the room to go back home, I told him I loved him and was proud of him.  He looked me in my eyes and said, “I love you too baby.” My father died 24 hours later.

My daddy went down swinging.

I am grateful to the Lord for allowing us those final precious days with my dad. Our family clung to every breath he took. We studied every movement and every gesture. We responded to every word he uttered, whether lucid or not. In those final days, God gave us peace. He comforted us as he slowly transitioned our dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful for those final days.  Even though we will miss him dearly here on Earth, we do not weep as those who have no hope. We know he is with Jesus. We take each day moment, by moment, but our hope lies in the resurrection of Christ. We have a comforter. We have a savior that bore our sins and infirmities so that we can live with him forever. For that, I am thankful. My dad’s confession was that he would live and not die. He now lives forever with Christ.

Monday, November 18, 2013

When the Ministry Becomes the Mistress ~And yes, I'm going there.

The serpent is the most subtle creature....

That’s how it begins. Subtly. A meeting here, a meeting there. An added bible study.   Hospital visits. A wedding. A funeral. A crisis. A need.

The overwhelming responsibility of ministry can throw a personal life out of balance.

A missed practice. A missed recital. Game. Homework assignment. No time for date night. A makeshift birthday or anniversary. Chipped paint. High grass.  No talks. No walks. No prayer.

Just as Eve was enticed by the slithering serpent, the mundane routine of everyday life gives way to the draw of being needed. Worthy causes and legitimate demands subtly slither in, separating the oneness of the flesh like a sultry harlot maneuvering her way into the heart of a married man. And just like that, we sin. The enticing call of ministry can blur even the best of judgement.

Adultery is easily justifiable when the mistress is ministry. We begin to deny the wife of our youth with a well preached sermon. The new worship set captivates us more than her love. The satisfaction of her breasts is not as enticing as a church fellowship because prudence is now enticement...with rubies. She is not as precious.  She is submissive to another husband, committee, class. And just like that, we sin.

But we have to meet the needs of the people, right? Did God not call us to be the salt of the Earth? Preach the Gospel to the nations? Feed the hungry? Take care of the widows and orphans? Yes, and yes. However, he has first called us all to our homes.  

The breakdown of God’s example of the family stems from subtle deceits. Be not deceived friends. Secret desires to be seduced by flattering lips can cost you your life.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

When God Blesses Your Children

Five years ago, I BEGGED my husband to take me home to my dear Tennessee. I was fed up with the whole failed diversity thing and very much over the para (with no) church ministry thing.  We had experienced blatant ignorance and racism in our Christian school, a call away from our church, and parted ways with our job. Like a five year old child, I wanted my mama.

In the midst of my pity party, I asked God for one thing, the protection of my children.

We left our church, our school, and our job. I packed my bags and was ready to go home to my mama. It was then when a funny thing happened; God blessed my children. In the midst of chaos and confusion, and all the animosity and hurt feelings; God saw fit to protect their hearts and minds, and bless them.

When God blesses your children all is right with the world. It feels like the heavens open up and God smiles directly at you. You rest a little better. You breathe a little easier. When God blesses your children, you know that everything is going to be okay.

My children have been thrust into manhood by the hard truths of life, all while being surrounded and protected by a sovereign God. Since that time, 2 of my sons have committed to play college sports, and one is being recruited to do so.  My children have won athletic, music, and art awards. Embraced by a new set of friends, they face life with a certain maturity that most adults don't have. They know about the sufficiency of grace and the sovereignty of an almighty God. Our family was in a free fall, but God saw fit to give them what they needed when they needed it.  

So, if you find yourself wallowing in sorrow about things you cannot control, or throwing a pity party when life doesn't go your way, remember that everything happening around you is not always about you. Don’t be quick to pack up and leave. God may use that situation to bless your children.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Boaz or Dumbaz?

This post was inspired by a viral fb post (author unknown) and recent conversations with my girlfriends. The content may be offensive to sensitive ears and delicate spirits. No fear, skip this one. Holy roller post coming soon....

I woke up to long stemed roses today.  No reason. Just because. You see girls, when you marry a Boaz, a hero of sorts, that's what happens. You get roses for no reason. Not only that, but he changes pampers, wakes up at 3am on throw up duty, washes dishes, orders take out, and even knows what a vacuum is.  All while YOU submit to him. It's almost magical.

The problem comes in when women go out looking for Boaz and find posers like Dumbaz, Lazyaz, Brokeaz, or the (worst in my opinion) Stupidaz.

In the words of my friend Marion, "Everything that glitters ain't gold."

How can you tell the difference? Read the book of Ruth.

Does your man live with you or his mama? Is he easily angered when held accountable? Does he struggle with subject/verb agreement?  uh huh....Dumbaz!

Unlike Dumbaz, Boaz knew how to treat a lady.  He gave Ruth provision and protection. He had made name for himself as a businessman. He was successful in his own right.  He was heroic.

Does your man pay? Does he have a legitimate income?  No? He's one of the twins...Lazyaz or Brokeaz.

Unlike Lazyaz and Brokeaz, Boaz worked. He maintained fields with abundant harvests. He was a rich man. So much so that Ruth and Naomi were able to live by gleaning leftovers.

Does your man handle responsibility? Does he do what's right/ required of  him?  If no, he could be Stupidaz!

Unlike Stupidaz, Boaz had a clue. He was sensitive to Ruth and Naomi's needs and stepped up to take responsibility as their kinsman redeemer. He was a man of integrity.

Is there such a man these days? YES, "Boaz" does exist in the 21st century.  He is a man that loves and honors God first and seeks a wife to provide for and protect.

How do you find one?  You don't. He has to find you ( Proverbs 18:22). You seek God first, practice being a "keeper at home" (Titus 2) and let everything else be added to your life (Luke 12:31).

FYI~ Boaz is not interested in your Divaaz

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Didn't Want to Be a Mom

While pretending to be asleep as my crew makes me a surprise breakfast, I reflect on 2012 and I am eternally grateful. (Sidebar~ really guys? How long does it take to scramble an egg and burn the toast? I've been waiting for like an hour!)   This past month of motherhood has been the greatest one yet.  I have watched my children face adversity head on, go into battle like warriors, and come out unharmed. And to think, 20 years ago, I didn't want children.

Twenty years ago, Oprah Winfrey was my idol. I had been groomed to be an independent Black woman.  I interned with one of the largest banks in the nation and had lunch with the guy whose signature was stamped on the checks.  I was trained in management and had every intention of being the Queen Bee of a Fortune 500 by age 30. I was taught to set goals and do something everyday to accomplish that goal, and I did.  When I was 18, I made more money than my mother.  I wore suits to work everyday and carried a briefcase. A family would only slow me down and ruin my life plan of waking up to the Atlantic Ocean every morning.

But God....

During my planning process of world domination and accumulating stacks and stacks of cash, I noticed that it was never enough.  There was always somebody smarter, more connected, and more driven than me.  It became exhausting and overwhelming.  I wanted fulfillment.

So I married a preacher. Ha!

While I still have lunch with the guy who signs the checks (wink), the Queen Bee thing often backfires and the Fortune 500 sometimes ends up a "Series of UNfortunate Events." To be honest, marriage has been the most challenging thing I've ever done.  Parenting, even worse. But God has given me grace to do them both, sometimes successfully. Sometimes, not so much. I am so thankful God gave me the desires of my heart through parenting even though he had to change my desire to the things he desired for me. Going my own way would have caused me to miss out on the most rewarding part of my life~ raising children. I would take dirty diapers and throw up over a designer suit any day. (FYI~ God can do both!)

 The bonus is that my marriage and family is not in competition with anyone else. I get to run the race set before me (Heb. 12:1,2). I am only in competition with myself and ALL God has called me to do. So I don't give a rip who's smarter, more connected or more driven. I'm not running that race. Embrace who you are and where God has you. Whether you have a full house or are praying fervently for God to fill it, run the race set before YOU. God will give you grace.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hot Pink Stilettos and Arizona Tea

The day I originally wrote this blog, was the day I read about Trayvon Martin. I had seen it posted on friends' pages for over a week. I decided not to be a bandwagoner.  I ignored it. Annoyed by the repetitive posts, I finally clicked on the link.  It broke my heart. And for about 30 seconds, I wondered, "what's the use?"  WHY would I bother trying to raise model citizens if they would just end up being treated like savages and shot on the street. A black male doesn't stand a chance in America. It added to the frustration I already felt and reopened a wound that had just recently started to heal. I immediately called an audible in my household and ONCE AGAIN, we changed our protocol. 

I changed my son's curfew.  I limited his visitation radius and he now had to check-in with me every time he changed locations. And no, he could no longer wear his hoodie at night.  This new list was added to our ban on wearing red, wearing all black, walking at night with a group of other black boys, and associating too closely with white girls.  Sound silly?  Not to black families.  ALL of these things have gotten black boys both harassed and killed. (Somebody with a gun felt threatened)  Arizona Tea was once a staple in our home. Our taste buds have changed.

The past 3 months have been a whirlwind of emotions for me. The  Prom drama  opened a plethora of opinions, speculations, assumptions, and blatant ignorant remarks from my readers. For all of them, I am grateful. I was especially blessed to have my Christian friends surround me with love and encouragement. The Lord of Hosts was with me, as he was with David facing Goliath.  However, the greatest lesson I learned was about myself. We ALL still have a LONG way to go:

I sat at a recent sporting event and caught a glimpse of my "offender." I wanted to approach him and ask why the melanin in my skin offended him.  I wanted to know why he was such a coward and allowed his daughter to face ridicule.  Most of all, I wanted to know why he had not returned my phone calls. Instantly, I heard the Lord speak to me through my spirit. God reminded me that the anger and bitterness I had for that man was no different from the hatred he had for me. God reminded me that it is only by grace through faith that I am saved. I was humbled. At that moment, I released my offender and walked away. I forgave him. Jesus did that for me on the cross.

You see, we are ALL one bad decision away from an offensive comment, a fit of anger, a life-changing choice. Will you walk away or pull the trigger?

My son went to prom on Friday night.  He had the time of his life.  His date? A beautiful head turning blonde in a silver sequined dress wearing hot pink stilettos. They have been buddies since middle school. We knew her parents. We've been to their home.... (same story, different girl)

As my son prepares to leave my home to pursue his dream of playing college football, his father and I will cover him daily with prayer and believe God for his protection.  As he takes his melanin, his hoodie, and love of Skittles and Arizona tea, I will be left with 2 recently taken pictures of him: one taken at a sporting event with my son standing and cheering next to a man (unknowingly) who showed hatred toward him, and another taken at prom with the man's daughter.

It's how we were razed....