Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Fall!


Greetings Friends,

Happy Fall Season!  It's been a long time since I posted a blog.  I pray that you're enjoying this beautiful Fall Season. The past few months have been full of many transitions for me so I haven't taken the time to write a lot.  I just want to let each of you to know that I am getting back into my creative writing groove and will be in full force within the the next few weeks.  I have sooooo many lessons and MUCH to share. Stay tuned!!  Holla at you later!!!  

Monday, September 5, 2011

How Do You Treat American Workers?

"Labor Day was made a national holiday in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland. After a number of deaths in 1894, workers went on strike in support of this holiday. The holiday pays tribute to the achievements of American workers. Today, Labor Day is used as the official last weekend of summer."


For many of us, Labor Day marks the last official weekend of the summer and gives us a piad holiday off of work. However, the foundation of this holiday was laid by American workers that were tired of working in oppressive, unsafe and unfair working conditions.  Since the Industrial Revolution American workers have been exploited, abused and misused for the sake of making a profit. As a worker in America, I am very grateful to those that laid the foundation.

Over the years the "Corporate Citizen" has gained far more legal rights in America than everyday working people. Any student of history knows that there has been a long history of struggle between American workers and the large corporate interests. If this is news to you please see the movie by Michael Moore called The Corporation. You can visit the website at http://www.thecorporation.com.

Today as I was reflecting on how laborers and workers are valued and treated in my own community I had a few thoughts that made me go "Hmmmm......"  Ironically, I have concluded that the ACTUAL problem in valuing American workers is perhaps not rooted in a "grand corporate conspiracy" but perhaps it an outgrowth of Americans' inability to value each other and/or human rights.  Overall, I think labor injustices are simply reflective of our overall devaluing and marginalizing of the human beings and the human spirit in our culture. 

What's the real value of a worker?
Not too long ago I went to dinner with a co-worker that was outright rude to our server.  When the server got a portion of the order wrong it became a reflection of his intellect-- My coworker commented,"He's so stupid."  When he got the manager to come out to correct the issue it became a battle of power-- My co-worker then said,"He knew I wasn't to be played with?" Even when the dude tried to make amends by bringing a free desert the only thing my coworker could state was, "Why did he assume that I wanted THIS particular desert?"  

How many times HAVE YOU completely disregarded a workers' ability and/or gave them the opportunity to correct a mistake before yelling, "I want to see your manager right now?"

How many times HAVE YOU been served and taken care by hotel staff, restaurant workers, sanitation workers, cab drivers, checkout clerk, etc. and never felt the need to acknowledge their presence, nor say "hello" or "thank you" or even leave a tip in appreciation of their service?

How many times HAVE YOU gotten angry with the drive-thru window worker for getting your order wrong when you KNOW you changed your mind AND your order at least 5 times? Heck....wouldn't you be confused too?! 
LIFE LESSON: It's easy for us to hold people accountable for what WE think they should be doing.  How about.....BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE!

Do Social Justice Organizations and Activists practice what they preach?

A few years ago I participated in a demonstration in support of "mandatory health care access" at a state capitol.  As I stood there chanting and raising my protest sign I was approached by a Republican law maker. He walked up to me and calmly said, "Why are you out here protesting? I bet your organization doesn't even provide health insurance for you." 

My initial thought was to "cuss him out" but the truth of what he said actually hit me like a ton of bricks. The fact was I worked for a medium sized organization and neither I nor my child had health coverage.  My job didn't offer it for my family nor could I afford it with my salary as an organizer.  However, the leadership of the organization that I worked for actually HAD health coverage for themselves. 
LIFE LESSON: It is sometimes easy for us to point the finger at "corporate America" but many social justice activists and organizations have not adopted the very principals they are suppose to be standing for. In short...SOCIAL JUSTICE IS NOT A POSITION IT IS A PRACTICE & PRINCIPAL FOR ALL.

Is the ONLY requirement for a black community-owned business "designation" is that the owners are Black? 
This topic is so intense and deep to my heart that I feel it righteously deserves its own blogpost!  But for the sake of this writing, I will try to make my point short and sweet. I know some of y'all ain't gonna like what I am about to say but this is what I truly feel....

After Hurricane Katrina, I started organizing resources to send to the impacted communities in the gulf coast.  The only businesses that told me flat out "NO" were black professional businesses.  However, the local Mom and Pop stores would offer and provide whatever little resources they had to the effort.  Individuals and churches in the community also offered support in droves.   I am NOT saying that black professional businesses did not provide help in the Katrina efforts.  There were many, many black businesses that helped the efforts. But what I AM saying is that the only time I ran up against this "poor people need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps" attitude it came from black middle class professionals.  
LIFE LESSON: Don't forget from whence the road you came by...YOU MAY NEED HELP ONEDAY TO PREVENT GOING THAT SAME WAY AGAIN! 

Peace and Blessings,

LaTosha

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Loving Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-44
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!


Recently I posted a bible verse on my FaceBook page that instructs Christians to love our enemies and pray for those that despitefully use us.  In a matter of seconds of posting this verse, I received several "I likes" and personal comments from my FB friends about this particular expectation of a Christian.

I was particularly struck by a comment written by one of my good friends. He essentially stated that "loving his enemies" was not something that he could do. Matter of fact he went on to state that what he really wished and wanted for his enemies could not be stated in a public space like FB.(smile)

I appreciated my friend's honesty and frankness.  At some point we all have felt like my friend in our lives.  I think it's a normal human reaction to be angry when we are faced with circumstances created by people in our lives that betray, lie, misuse and/or abuse us.

However, this particular verse is one of my favorites in the bible.  For me, the beauty of this bible verse is that it forces each of us to tap into our higher selves. Loving someone that has tried to "do you in" requires one to access love on a higher level! It takes FAR more spiritual muscle and strength to love someone that has done something hurtful to you.  I mean-- you have to reach WAAAAYYY down in your spirit to pull on the power of love! WHEW!!

A couple of years ago, after experiencing a personal betrayal it was revealed to me that "loving your enemies" is really an opportunity for us to grow spiritually and experience unconditional love.  This particular aspect of love blesses the individual through the process and sends healing energy to those that have hurt us deeply. 




Praying for those that "despitefully use you" also forces each of us to move outside the "ego" and tap into the part of our human spirit that is filled with compassion, love and forgiveness. Ultimately, I feel that the Christian charge to"love your enemies" is also a reminder that we are all humans that "fall short of the glory of God" but redemption and forgiveness is always accessible, available and possible through Jesus Christ.

It's easy to love someone we like.... but it takes TRUE spiritual grounding to sincerely love someone that we feel has wronged us. I think "loving your enemies" is the essential foundational belief that framed the civil rights movement in this country. Unfortunately, I have seen this "loving your enemies" be exploited and misrepresented--but I'll deal with that in another blog! 


I really think the core lessons of the civil rights movement were lost in the historical translation and playback of events.  The movement wasn't about "black folks liking white folks" or vice versa.  This was a "love movement" that was grounded in accountability, forgiveness, and redemption!  

Love isn't about our personal likes and dislikes of other people or disappointments with others--but ultimately we are spiritually charged by God to love every human being unconditionally!


What would the world look like if we ALL loved each other unconditionally???????  Each day God is molding me and teaching me that it's truly...

 "ALL About Love"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Standing In Awe of God


The past two weeks have been such a whirlwind for me.  I am so in awe about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.  Of course, with all the blessings that I have received throughout my life I should be use to the miraculous powers of God..but I am always in AWE!

2011 has been such an intensely emotional year for me.  I have finally accepted that I can be a very intensely emotional person. (Well I am a scorpio)  I have always rejected this fact about myself but I am finally convinced that there is a lot of truth in it--at least as it relates to me.  Sometimes in the same day I have felt loved, hurt, protected, betrayed, deceived, encouraged, attacked, embraced, misunderstood, supported, etc.  On those days, I usually get caught up in a cycle of responding to my emotions. This can be an extremely draining and tiring process.

On last Tuesday, I had one of my most emotional days this year.  The first part of the morning I was feeling very good about a recent accomplishment and then out-of-the-blue I received a very troubling email from a co-worker that made me feel hurt and betrayed.  Throughout the day I experienced a series of calls that made my emotions bounce up and down. This continued throughout the evening and later that same night around 1:00 a.m. I experienced feelings of sadness about a personal desire that did not manifest.  Yet three minutes later at 1:03 a.m. my emotions shifted again as I got some very exciting and promising news.

Now as I reflect on that particular day, I realize that I can no longer allow my emotions to take me on a rollar coaster ride nor control of my life.  I truly believe that the purpose of our emotions is to help heighten our awareness through our feelings but instead I have found myself trying to cater to the emotions.

I also realize that the best approach to life is to feel the experience, learn from it and keep moving forward.   Sometimes we choose to stay in a particular emotional state so that we can try to manipulate God's will in our lives.  For example, we will hold on to hurt and anger so God can "punish" those people that we feel have done us wrong.  We will also hold on to special memories from our past relationships although God has given us clear signs to let it go.  We will even work to sabotage our own progress so we won't have to be accountable to God for operating in our power with the gifts He has given us.

The AWESOME thing about God is that He is not controlled by our emotional state. God will give us grace and favor even when we are in our darkest moments.  God can give us our greatest personal challenge even when we feel we are on top of the world.  God will even bring us unspeakable joy in the midst of a painful and difficult circumstance.  My point is that God's AWESOMENESS is greater than our emotions.  Our emotions should not be running things...for it is God that is in control. 

Well, I will close now because I preparing for a trip to DC to receive an award at the White House!  This is a blessing for me and I am extremely excited and honored by this opportunity.  However, I am more grateful to God for teaching me how to put all of the things of this world in perspective. He is teaching me everyday that my value is not how others see me but is an inherent gift in being a child of God. 

Most importantly, God is teaching me how to love myself as He loves me---unconditionally.

I will tell you this...if God never does another thing for me... He has done enough already to be worthy of my praise!! All praises to the Most High!


Stay Tuned and Be Blessed!
LaTosha




      

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Am I A Christian???


The other day I was talking to an ex-boyfriend that was talking about his former relationship with another woman and his description of her was "She is a Christian lady." This already difficult conversation (since this is someone that I still have feelings for) and statement hurt me to the core because it seem to imply that the new woman was something that I was not.  I thought to myself, "Did he not think I was a Christian lady too? Am I not a good Christian? More importantly, is God pleased with me?"  

Although the statement bruised my "spiritual" ego it also caused me to reflect on what it means to be Christian.  It also made me think about how do I demonstrate my walk with Christ in my personal and professional life. Years ago I thought being a Christian meant being religious.  When I first gave my life to Christ I was on constant "hallelujah" auto-play with everyone I met.  I consistently talked only about the scriptures, preached to everyone I knew, submerged myself in the studying of the word and listened only to gospel music.  

One of the most important revelations during this period of discovery was that I realized that being Christian meant more than the outward appearance.  It was more about being a true follower of Christ's teachings. This is why I absolutely love the ministry of Jesus Christ! Unlike the Sadducees and Pharisees (the religious scholars that were caught up in rituals and the law) Jesus taught his followers to develop a deeper and personal relationship with the God.   

Jesus was constantly challenged by religious leaders during his walk on the earth.  Many leaders of the law accused Jesus of blasphemy and called him a fake, heretic, liar, and even a demon ruler! Jesus even had to defend himself to the religious teachers in Matthew 5:17.  He stated, Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill it."

I certainly desire to strengthen my faith and walk in Christ and so I am constantly pressing to become a better believer.  Perhaps I needed to hear that statement so that I could rededicate myself and refocus on strengthening my faith.  Perhaps I needed to be motivated to seek the scriptures for new revelation and direction.  Perhaps I needed to hear that statement to remind me of what I do not want to become.  Because I know one thing for sure...I dont want to be religious; I want to be like Christ.

We are all spiritual beings having a human experience.  As the bible says, "We all fall short of the glory of God" but the wonderful thing is that He gives us a daily opportunity to receive a fresh anointing. I will continue to stand on the scriptures as my guide and below I have listed some of my favorite verses.  I pray that God continues to give me the strength, revelation, discipline and courage to follow the true teachings of Jesus Christ.  I hope these scriptures bless you like they have blessed me.

John 10:27

 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 13:34-35

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Luke 16:14-15
 14And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

 15And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.


Luke 4:18

18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
       Because He has anointed Me
      To preach the gospel to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a]
      To proclaim liberty to the captives
      And recovery of sight to the blind,
      To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

Peace, Love and Blessings!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lessons Learned from Black Men


Last week on Father's Day it was my intention to post a blog dedicated to black men.  On this particular holiday I am always very reflective about the role of the many great father's around the world, particularly in my community. For years this has been a bittersweet day for me.  Bitter in the sense that my own father was never active in my life; but also sweet because so many other fathers blessed and seeded into my life. 

As I get older and wiser I realize that sometimes things don't happen as we think they should.  However, God ultimately gives us everything we need in order to develop, grow and prosper.  Throughout my life God has placed good men in my path as a part of my journey. I have learned a lot about manhood by watching the men in my family, my male friends,  my former boyfriends and personal mentors.

Below I would like to share a few lessons that I have learned from two black men in my family that greatly impacted and shaped my life.

ALL Things Are Possible
I loved my granddaddy and thought he would live forever.  He died in 2008 at the age of 104.  What I remember most about my granddaddy, Joseph Gamble Sr., is that he was a very smart, wise, quiet and humble man.  He rarely talked so when he said something you knew that you needed to listen.  Only his immediate family knew his other skills and hobbies as a folk artist, avid reader and political commentator. (Interesting Fact: My granddaddy was the ONLY Democrat that I ever knew that liked President George W. Bush) 

My grandfather was the son of a white farmer and black woman in the early 1900's in Alabama.  He loved his family and would always tell  me stories about his childhood "up the country".  He especially liked to tell stories about his extremely colorful and resilient father.   My grandfather said that his Dad loved his boys and gave each son their own business (i.e. a "whiskey still") on their respective 18th birthdays. Most of granddaddy's favorite stories were centered around the adventures with his brothers while making whiskey and "running" moonshine.

What I found interesting about my granddaddy is that even though he was the least formerly educated and (least) traveled member of my family he was the MOST open minded.  My grandfather dropped out of school in the third grade and only traveled outside the state of Alabama 2-3 times during his entire lifetime.  Yet it was my grandfather that was always the most excited to hear about my travel adventures to Cuba, Africa and Europe. (He was very excited when I went to Cuba because he was secretly fascinated with Fidel Castro and the "communist".)

One of the other things that fascinated me most about by granddaddy was his unwavering belief in supernatural events. He often shared stories about unexplainable events like finding unexpected money to pay a bill in the exact amount needed, witnessing strange incidents occurring in nature and having chance encounters with people that were possibly angels. He loved watching the news and would often read books on dianetics, spiritual writings and Christian science.

I think the most important lesson that my grandfather taught me was to look beyond what I could see in the natural world and be open to experience the vast possibilities in the universe.  My grandaddy taught me to widen my horizons in thought. He taught me that God has no boundaries.

Never Take Love for Granted
I sincerely believe that God gives every human being a guardian angel on earth that loves you unconditionally.  My brother, Marcus Christopher Brown, was that angel for me.  He believed that his big Sister Tosha, could do anything, knew everything and someday would "be somebody".    

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about my deceased brother. He was my younger brother and only sibling on my mother's side.  Unfortunately, he committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day in 2003.  It was a very sad and unexpected blow for my family.  

My biggest regret and life lesson learned from my brother is the importance of  not taking love for granted.  As my mother's oldest child, I never imagined that my brother would die before me. (And especially in his early thirties) I thought that I would have my little brother around to boss during my entire lifespan.

In hindsight, I now realize that I took his unconditional love and belief in me for granted.  It was only after his death that I realized how much pain Marcus was going through and that he needed help from his family.  Unfortunately,  I was personally too wrapped up in my own life to even recognize the depth of brother's pain.  This is something I sincerely regret.

For months, the reality of my brother's death caused me to struggle with tremendous feelings of guilt and remorse.  However, one particular day as I was thinking about all the things that I should have or could have done better to save my brother's life I heard a voice in my spirit.  The message was very simple, "Do you think that you could have saved him but I couldn't? Don't you know that life and death are in MY hands not yours."  It was at that very moment that I released the guilt and reflected on the larger lesson that Marcus taught me.......never take love and/or those whom you love for granted.     


Black men have taught me so much about life and love.  The men in my family are only a small fraction of men that have positively impacted my life.  I have learned from my friends, ex-lovers, leaders and coworkers.  Much of the breadth and depth of my life experiences have been a direct result of my relationship with the brothers that I loved or the ones that loved me.   

Today I encourage you to take the time to reflect and be thankful for all of the men that God has placed in your life.  The brothers have certainly added the texture to the fabric of my life. 

Thank you black men!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Standing in Your Power


Have you ever felt totally powerless?  If so, then you know that it is an awful and debilitating feeling.  One of my biggest personal challenges has been my desire to constantly want to please people.  I absolutely love to serve people and make them feel happy and loved. But sometimes it is at the expense of standing in my power.

I truly believe that serving others is a calling and gift from God  However, many times I have allowed this gift to be exploited and used out of context by my unbalanced desire to be accepted by other people. Recently a friend told me that I could reduce the stress in my life by no longer allowing others to exploit by gift by standing in my own power. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what exactly does it mean to stand in my own power.  I realize that many of my relationship challenges, personal failures and feelings of betrayal have resulted in me allowing external pressures to erode my internal sense of power.  It is important for all of us to completely embrace who we are as powerful beings. 

Although I am not a big self-help book fan I must admit that I have read scores of self-help articles, inspirational readings and motivational books on the subject. I truly desire to understand the concept more fully.  This evening I decided to mentally "freestyle" and list some of my thoughts about the concept.   Perhaps this blog post will serve as an personal exercise to help facilitate my growth in embracing the fullness of who I am. Prayerfully it will also be a blessing to you as well.

Reflection #1: Greater is He within me; than he that is in the world. 
This is a powerful bible verse that teaches us that our internal power within is actually greater than any external power or pressure in the world. If we really stood on this belief there is no way that we would ever feel a sense of powerlessness.  I recognize that my weak moments are rooted in the fact that I haven't fully accepted that God is not an outside separate entity but in fact His Sprit lives within me. God is a part of my being.

Reflection #2: People pleasing behavior never satisfies the people that you are trying to please.
I know that is a tongue twister but many of you know exactly what I mean.  Through my many life experiences and wisdom I have finally discovered that it is absolutely impossible to please everybody.  It is particularly useless to focus your energies on people that only seek to take from you and/or exploit your "people pleasing" nature.

People that constantly demand proof, actions, and personal favors recognize your gift but desire to control and/or exploit it for their own benefit. As we learn to stand in our power we have to recognize that we must be good stewards over the gifts that God has given us.  As the scriptures say, "Don't throw your pearls to swine."

All people deserve our prayer and reasonable help but NO ONE deserves to be given our power.  God bestows his favor to whom ever He chooses. Those that value your power will also value your use and protection of that power.

Reflection#3: Self forgiveness is this best path towards self acceptance.
I am oftentimes my worst and harshest critic.  Over the years I have internalized that being self critical will automatically  lead to self improvement.  NOT TRUE! While I think it is important for one to be reflective it is counter productive to become self-critical to the point of self doubt.
Reflection #4: Fully embrace your power for your gifts shall make room for you.
This statement is also rooted in a scripture.  It is so true!  Most of my most powerful moments have resulted in me operating in my gifts without fear and/or reservation.  Of course, your haters will take notice but I am convinced that the more you fly with the eagles the less you will be concerned about the actions of chickens.

Reflection #5: Chickens peck, turkeys strut, birds fly..... but eagles soar. 
A long time ago a best friend of mine told me about her bird analogy as it relates to people.  She told me to look at the actions of a common birds (chickens) and how their actions differs from the eagles.  She pointed out to me that chickens 1. hang out in groups, 2. have wings but don't fly, and 3. will eat whatever is placed before them.  While on the other hand, 1. eagles operate independently, 2. fly higher than any other known bird, 3. they build their nest up high and 4. highly selective about what they eat, who they mate with and where they build their nests.

She said, "Tosha we are eagles.  You must seek out the company and support of other eagles."  She also went on to say, "If eagles stay on the ground too long and hang out with the chickens there is a possibility they will take on the behavior of chickens.  Not only will the eagle no longer  soar...but it may forget  how to fly."
     
Please feel free to share your thoughts about STANDING in YOUR POWER!
  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

God Made Grandmothers

(This is a photo of my grandparents for their 50th Anniversary.They were married for 76 years.)


Nellie Gamble is my grandmother's name but I called her Mama.  A few days ago I was thinking about how much my grandmother loved me, taught me and influenced my life.  The amazing thing is that I realized that I don't talk about her enough or allow myself to think about her because it still hurts me to know that she is now gone.  However, lately as I go through another life transition I have been reflecting alot on her life, spiritual teachings and our special love bond.

My grandmother was my protector, my hero, my first teacher and my  spiritual mentor.  I literally thought my grandmother was a SAINT!  She always wanted to be a teacher so she taught all of her children and even taught me how to read at the age of three. She thought that being a "school teacher" was the ultimate honorable job. She always talked about how becoming a teacher was her dream but she abandoned it to get married at the age of 15.  

She was encouraged by "her grandmother" to marry a 20 year old local landowner and farmer.  He was one of the infamous Gamble boys that was the son of a local white landowner that openly loved his black wife and took good care of their 13 children. (NOTE: This was in the late 1800's in central Alabama so this was very rare)  

My grandmother said that her grandmother felt that it would be best if she got married because she was poor and raised as an orphan.  The family felt as my grandmother became a young woman she needed a husband to provide her with the life she deserved.  Therefore, my grandmother dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and became a wife.  Yet even more than 50 years later she talked everyday about how she wished she had finished school and become a school teacher.  She said that in some ways she was glad that she made the decision because she always followed the advice of her grandmother. My grandmother said that her grandma was the BEST in the world but I disagree...SHE was the BEST.  

Tonight I decided to briefly reflect on some of my best memories and core lessons learned from my grandmother on my blog. 

Love is a Piece of Cake
On the third of every month-after my grandmother got her social security check- she would dress me up, put on her best dress and we would take the public bus downtown.  She would shop and pay bills but one of the highlights of our downtown adventure happened to be our cake ritual.  After all the business had been completed, we would go to Woolworth Department store.  She would always proudly take me to sit at the dining counter and order me a piece of German chocolate cake and glass of milk.  My grandmother had severe diabetes (what she called sugar) so she never would order any cake for herself but I always knew it was her favorite.  

She would always place her "pocketbook" in her lap, place my order and patiently watch me eat.  She would never talk while I was eating but seemed to enjoy the process. She was so proud to be able to buy me a piece cake and glass of milk. She absolutely enjoyed seeing me finish my treat...and it was always good!  The ritual always seemed like it was our little secret.  It was the one thing that we always did together that no one else knew. I now realize how precious those moments were in my life.  There was so much love exchanged in those quiet moments with my grandmother at the Woolworth counter eating a piece of German chocolate cake. 

BFF
I promise you that Jesus was my grandmother's best friend!  She talked to him about everything---I mean EVERYTHING.  She would declare his name aloud when she got good news, bad news, no news or if she wanted some news.  My grandmother was so openly tight with Jesus that my brother and I would be afraid that Jesus would "tell on us" to her when we did something mischievous.  I remember thinking as a small child, "I know Jesus must get tired of her because she talks to him, sings to him and calls on him all day long!" Her favorite song was "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."  She absolutely BELIEVED and LIVED the words of this song. For this woman Jesus was her BFF (Best Friend Forever)!!!!!

"If God Lets Me Live That Long And Nothing Happens"
My grandmother would declare this ENTIRE statement listed above before she made any commitment to attend an event or activity. She would say the entire phrase before saying "Yes, I'll be there." This was such a part of her daily mantra that she had developed a cadence with the phrase.  She said it was almost like it was part of a song.  What I learned from her through this declaration was that she always acknowledged that God was in complete control of her time on this earth. He blessed her with 91 years of life. 

"Somebody Bring Me My Gun"
I never saw this infamous gun that my grandmother would always refer to, however  if anybody strange or uninvited came on our porch or to our home while my grandfather was away she would loudly request that my brother or I would bring her gun. Of course, we would look at each other confused and think, "What gun does Mama have? Where is it?"  Before we could ask the question she would give us "that look" and we knew to sit down and shut up.  Due to her health and weight my grandmother had limited mobility. This was her way of warning a possible intruder that she would do anything to protect her grandchildren. It worked because this declaration would ward off any stranger  that would come to our home announced. 

I have tons and tons of more stories and memories to share.  Perhaps I will share them in future blogs. For right now I will savor the four memories and phrases that I listed above.  

I think there is always one person in each of our lives that God has placed on our individual paths to give us unconditional love.  My grandmother was that person for me.  She loved me fiercely, patiently and consistently. She taught me that true love never fails.

There is a lot that I don't know but the one thing that I know for sure is that God Certainly Made Grandmothers! I miss you Mama!


 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A 40 Year Love Journey: The Healing Story of a Little Brown Girl


The Little Brown Girl
She's only 7 years old.  However, she has technically lived on this earth for more than 40 years, given birth to a child, experienced years of life lessons, inspired hundreds of people, raised millions of dollars, traveled the world and accomplished many professional and personal feats.  

Perhaps you have seen her before...she is that little brown girl standing on the corner holding three balloons (two yellow and one white) in her left hand while simultaneously twisting her pink satin hair ribbons with her right hand. She is the little girl with the bright smile, tiny gold hoop earrings and two afro puff ponytails placed on opposite sides of her head. 

She always wears a beautiful pink summer cotton dress adorned with white lace trimming. (This is her favorite dress because her grandmother-- the one person that loved her unconditionally-- bought it for her from Naman's department store in downtown Mobile more than 35 years ago just for being a good girl at school.)  She also proudly dons her favorite shiny white patent leather shoes (with a few scuff marks) and fancy dress socks trimmed in white lace and embroidered with tiny pink flowers. 

The Family
The little girl's family loved her dearly.  Her mother called her Sweet Chocolate Chip, her grandmother called her Ma and her aunts and uncles always called her Baby Girl.  However, she secretly always wanted to be called Princess--but only by her Daddy if they would ever meet again. She vaguely remembered meeting her Daddy once but that was such a long, long time ago.  She often wondered would he remember meeting her.

The Wait
She's a patient little girl that consistently stands in that same spot on the same corner, in that same pretty pink dress, with those same balloons for more than 38 years waiting for her Daddy to pick her up. She always believed in her heart that he would come back and take her for ice cream. Therefore, she filled up all of her time with activities and got through her days by working, leading projects, singing, and talking with her friends.  

She never told her friends that she was waiting on Daddy.  Her friends only believed she was loved by her family.  Everybody thought she was a smart and happy little brown girl.  For the most part, she considered herself almost happy except she knew that everything would only become perfect when Daddy came back.

The"Brokenness"
As an innocent little girl she knew the sweetness of being loved unconditionally; however she also knew the bitter taste of being rejected. For years she never knew what to call those strange sensations in the pit of her stomach that came each time she felt "unloved and unwanted". However, she could vividly remember the very first time she felt those strange emotions--it happened at her "other" grandmother's house in Mississippi after seeing a picture of her absent father standing next to her sister (that was only 2 years older) sitting at her grandmother's table while flashing big radiant smiles.  

The Messages
During this visit to Mississippi the little brown girl carefully studied the family photo and couldn't understand why she wasn't in the picture. As she looked through the photos with her grandmother she remained quiet and painted her face with a great big smile.  She never told grandmother how she felt seeing the picture of the happy father-daughter pair that didn't include her.  Privately her active mind created strange messages such as, "What's wrong with me?  How come he loves her but not me? Why am I not good enough? Can I prove to him I am a good girl?  How can I make him love me?

The Twins
It was much later in life that the little brown girl realized that those strange messages were actually twin emotions and their specific names were Rejection and Abandonment

The little brown girl didn't particularly like the company of Rejection and Abandonment so she hid those twin emotions and buried them deep, deep down in her heart. She even tried to erase those emotions and feelings from her memory.  She almost succeeded until the day her heart was broken wide opened and shattered into a million pieces by that tall boy from down the road.  

The Playmates
The little brown girl really loved that tall boy from down the road and thought he would be her playmate for life.  They danced, they laughed together, they sang their favorite songs, they dreamt together and they even played house for many months. 

Although the tall brown boy had also lived on earth for more than 38 years, was divorced and had fathered two children-- in reality he was still that 8 year old little kid inside.  Ironically, he too didn't have a relationship with his Daddy either and in fact he didn't even know his real father.  But the tall boy said that this didn't bother him because he was big and strong.  He never talked about it.  But she knew he cared.

The tall boy constantly told the little girl that she was special and that he deeply loved her.... but sometimes he made her feel like she didn't really matter.  

One day for some unknown reason the tall boy just picked up his toys, left the sand box and moved away. There was no reason given, no explanation, and no real discussion.  He just left the little girl in the sand box to play all by herself.  

The Intruding Thoughts
As soon as the tall boy moved away the little girl's twin emotions of Rejection and Abandonment came back, tapped the little girl on her shoulder and demanded their rightful place in her heart and mind. She was now in a state of shock with a shattered ego, fractured feelings, and a broken heart. The little girl no longer had the strength to hide, wrestle and/or lock those strong emotions and feelings away. Her resistance was low.

Therefore, those twin emotions anchored themselves in the center of the little girl's mind and slowly took over her daily thoughts. Each day the intruding thoughts became stronger and stronger. Before long her thoughts led to many restless nights and tear filled days.

The Resurfacing Messages 
The little girl finally accepted that the tall boy was never coming back but now she heard those old messages louder than ever in her head.  They were the same exact messages she felt when she thought about Daddy. In every quiet moment she could hear those familiar messages, "What's wrong with me?  How come he loves her but not me? Why am I not good enough? Can I prove to him I am a good girl? How can I make him love me?

Seeking a ComfortingWord
The little brown girl was so tired of hearing those messages.  She needed immediate comfort and relief from the pain. She began to reflect on the things her grandmother taught her that would help her feel better.  She remembered that her grandmother--the one that loved her unconditionally--had always said that "God's word" could bring her comfort in the time of need. Therefore, the little girl picked up her bible and began to seek for the "word" that would bring her comfort. 

One morning she sat down in her quiet corner and read Roman's 12:2 that stated, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may determine what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

To be continued......

Stay Tuned for Part II: "Let the Healing Begin"
   



Friday, May 13, 2011

A Mama's Most Memorable Moments


It just hit me that my only child will be graduating from high school in less than two weeks.  The day has finally come where there will be no more parent/teacher conferences, no more boring PTA meetings, no more hours of Black History programs and Easter speeches, no more homework patrol, no more late night nursing-a-sick-child back to health, no more curfew control, no more room cleaning raids, no more restrictions, and no more whippings.
However, I realize that I am going to miss every single moment of raising a child!  My baby boy is actually grown up!  This past Mother’s Day I was sitting in the park thinking about my most memorable moments as a mother.  Here are a few a my favorite memories below:
"Trauma of the Flies"
My son and I traveled to Africa when he was 5 years old.  After visiting the country for about two weeks our delegation wrapped up our program and prepared to return home.  As a going away gift, our host family organized a huge crab boil cook-out in the village.  However, during the cookout my son and I noticed that there was an abundance of flies everywhere around the crab pots.  The flies landed on the pots, on the crabs, on peoples faces, and on the serving plates. Flies were EVERYWHERE!!!! 

My son (who hates bugs) sat quietly at the table while our freshly boiled crabs were being served and handed to us on plates.  After about 10 minutes of observation my son couldn’t take it anymore.  He yelled out and startled the crowd; this caused everyone in our vicinity to stop and look in our direction.  My son then shouted out at the top of his lungs. “Mommy, Mommy what is wrong with THESE people??? THE FLIES, THE FLIES are EVERYWHERE? Can’t they see THEM?  I just can’t take it anymore.  I don’t want any party.  I want to go home NOW where we don’t EAT flies!” This was one of my most embarrassing moments...but VERY funny!
"The Exposed Breast Mystery"
I breastfed my baby until he was 15 months.  At 15 months I began to ween him so I only breastfed him once each evening right before bed. I had completely stopped breastfeeding him throughout the night although he still slept in the bed with me. I soon noticed that I would wake up in the morning and always find my right breast outside of my gown. During this time I was very surprised about the change in his eating pattern in the mornings. I realized that he wasn’t hungry as usual after he woke up. Ironically, I woke up one night and caught the little rascal! I now realized that he was stealing a midnight nursing  while I was dead asleep. I was too OUTDONE! I started sleeping in t-shirts and pajamas from that day forward.
"The Weekend Excursion"
Like most teens, my son went through a rebellious stage around the age of 14.  On Thanksgiving a few years ago, I put my son on a greyhound bus to visit his Dad in Alabama.  Later that evening I discovered that he never arrived.  The next 48 hours were the worst hours of my life!!  I felt like I was in hell.   I was convinced that someone had stolen my precious teenage son and hurt him because he had never been out-of-place up until that point.  After viewing hours and hours of video at the Greyhound bus station, reporting an Amber Alert, and activating a personal search team of my friends for my son...he casually calls me 98 hours later to ask, “Ma I was wondering can I come by the house to get a change of clothes? I thought to myself.......WHAT???!!! 

Well, needless to say he came back but he was on lock down for a long time.   Almost a year  later when I could finally talk about the ordeal without wanting to choke him I asked,  “Son, why did run away and worry your family?” He looked shocked and calmly replied, ” What are you talking about Ma?  I never ran away. You and my Dad just overreacted. I was only on an Atlanta excursion with a few of my friends.” This is one of my most fearful and yet the most relieved moments with my son!

As you can see, I have had plenty of adventures with my son.  There are too many to recount on this blog.  And....YES I am very glad that I have almost completed this phase of motherhood.  However,  I am looking forward to many, many more great years of creating great memories and adventure together!