Awesome on Purpose

FeaturedAwesome on Purpose

I am feeling pretty awesome today.

Facts are not feelings, but when you are feeling good, it’s great. I guess that’s why so many people mask over their feelings with drugs and alcohol. If you don’t like what you are feeling, using a “cover” would provide an escape. Rather than hide from the escape, the best thing to do would be to find out the problem, to see what exactly is the issue and then to address that issue. If there is more than one, then tackle the issues one at a time. Will these tasks be easily accomplished? Probably not, but be clear: each issue must be faced. Someone said, if you don’t address your issues, your issues will address you. Who wants that? (Not I, said the writer with the short ‘fro.)

Life is something. It is good, it is amazing and it can also have some hiccups. The important thing to bear in mind is that God put each and every one of us on this Earth for a purpose. Our job is to learn that purpose and to strive to walk in it.

When you do that, somehow life becomes more emotionally manageable, calmer. For any conflict that arises—whether you created it through human frailty or whether it is beyond your control—you can be confident that it will work out. If God is for you, He is more than the world against you*. If you are walking in the purpose God has for your life, you should know God will see His Purpose(s) and Plan(s) fulfilled.

 

How do you know if you are walking in the purpose God has for you? Your peace is one assurance that you are walking in the path He has for your life. If you don’t know, there are a few links below that can help. In the meantime, ask God. He’ll answer. He talks to all of us. The question is, “Do you recognize His Voice?”

o-RELAXING-facebook.jpg (2000×1000)

*What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NIV)

http://takfiknamati.tv/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Rick-Warren-The-Purpose-Driven-Life-What-on-Earth-Am-I-Here-For.pdf

https://www.ted.com/talks/rick_warren_on_a_life_of_purpose?language=en&utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-over-money/201309/living-purpose

https://tonyevans.org/are-you-living-on-purpose/

https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-dangerous-approach-of-living-without-purpose-798a87c5d3a6

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Grateful for My Adults

FeaturedGrateful for My Adults

My eldest daughter is such a smart cookie. While all of my children are above average intelligence, she possesses a special insight, coupled with boldness. This unique characteristic has frequently made her my *iron which sharpens iron.

She told me I was lucky the other day.

“Lucky?”

“You don’t have those problems with your children…”

Those problems being the ones all around us in the news, the grapevine, next door, etc. She went on to discuss the ways some children completely tax their parents and overburden them way past the age of adulthood.

I am thankful, I told her. I am thankful that she and her siblings—in spite of my imperfections—grew up to be independent, creative, resourceful adults, who are also kind, compassionate and self-aware. Then I did something I don’t usually do. I took some credit for it.

It goes without saying that I pray. A lot. It is by God’s Grace—each and every day—that I go about all activities. With that said, my parenting was intentional. I observed people and I asked questions. Curious about how some people from so-called “good” homes turned out to be hellions, while other individuals who were raised in “bad” environments turned out to be such wonderful people, I watched, I listened and I learned.

I was determined that my children would grow up to be independent and learn how to navigate through a life that may not always seem fair. Sometimes it meant watching them fall, but I was always close by to help them up (if needed), as they got back on their two feet.

It is amazing what strength you develop when you are allowed to make mistakes without someone always coming to your rescue.

That is probably the most difficult part of parenting, knowing you can jump in and save, but loving your children enough to know that, if you save them from each and every circumstance, there will be consequences for their being unable to swim when you are not around to buoy them.

So from the time each of my children was born—until the last one reached independence—I poured my energy into parenting. It was not always pretty, I was so far from perfect, and my sins were many. In retrospect, I was harsher at times than I should have been. But now that they are 27, 29, 33 and 36, I am so proud of the adults they have become.

They tell me I did a great job.

We had a computer. Cell phones too. But there were limits to it. We watched movies as a family. We played games together. We went to the park. We went to the beach. We went to the library. We had reading time. We had turn-off-the-TV-for-a-week time (which turned into three years!).

It was not easy. At times I even wanted to run away, but I was ALWAYS mindful that children are a blessing. My children did not ask to be born into our family, to have me and their father as parents. It was my responsibility to do EVERYTHING in my power (by God’s Grace) to love them, nurture them, protect them, and raise them to be responsible adults who will live a life with which God would be pleased.

Today the challenges are different, but the principles remain the same. If you are in a position where God sees fit to make you a mother (biological or otherwise), the children do not ask to come to you. They are your gift and it is up to you to raise them. Keeping them quiet and busy with technology is not the same as parenting. Showering little ones with material things is not the same as nurturing. Spending time with your progeny does not mean everyone is at the dinner table with their tablets and devices.

Times will get hard, and you may wonder who those young people are at times.

When you need support, by all means get it. Take time out whether it be individual counseling, group therapy, a mommy day or calling in reinforcements to babysit, to carpool, to have the children over for safe and supervised spaces. It is okay to admit that you need help.

And before you know it, your little ones will be adults. Prayerfully, it will be a time that all of you can appreciate.

*As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

— Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

FeaturedA Letter of Welcome to Club POC

Dear White Culture,

We are done explaining racism, discrimination and white privilege. We are done attempting to explain historic cruelty and systemic bias in systems that do not inherently benefit People of Color (POC). To further attempt to explain is like telling a drug addict that he or she has a problem before they are ready to get help.

So this is what it is. When we walk away, when we stop spending our collective billions of dollars being consumers of hair, cars, electronics, sneakers and handbags, when we decide to educate our own children, when we decide to use our collective power to file the country’s largest civil suit demanding an apology and reparations for the generations of inhumane treatment targeting our ancestors and us—from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the School to Prison Pipeline up to and including all the other deeds which have been devised out of fear of revolt en masse, dwindling (white) population numbers and “just desserts” for hundreds of years of going around God’s beautiful green earth and taking what does not rightfully belong to one, and calling it one’s own UNDER THE GUISE OF CHRISTIANITY, do not be surprised and please refrain from shedding (white) tears. The jig is up; they have no effect on POC. We have realized that those same (white) tears which shed for abused puppies remain skillfully in place when POC are unjustly mishandled and often killed by police officers.

We don’t hate you (those of us who call ourselves Christians don’t anyway) and that is a good thing for you and for us. But we have learned that this government was never established for us and although a great portion of the economy was built up on the dependency of free and cruelly forced labor of millions of our ancestors, your continual denial of this fact leaves us to leave matters in the hands of the God you have chosen to justify your deeds—then and now—under the guise of Making America Great Again.

As your government runs amok and wealthy people hide behind all that their billions will allow, we wish you well.

Some of you may be wondering how we can so casually watch the leadership of this country disintegrate without fear, trembling or concern. The answer lies in the statement above: this country and its government were never established for us. Henceforth, all that many of you experience now, we have experienced in varying degrees since the country’s inception as The United States of America. For many POC, particularly those whose US history began with the landing on this country’s soil as enslaved peoples, this is business as usual. So rather than be fearful, we welcome those of you who are discomforted by the haphazard Democrats and the  spineless Republicans, we welcome you into the experience of what it can be like to be a POC in America.

Sincerely,

A Card-Carrying Member of the POC

a Breath of Fresh Air

a Breath of Fresh Air

a breath of fresh air

those words

Infiltrating my body

causing me to speak

an indecipherable tongue.

Was it word, or word play?

Rising up

inside my esophagus,

straight from my pit

(the same one that swallowed whole

2 servings of curried goat and peas and rice)

last night those words

gurgled and bubbled

until caught in my throat

a necklace choker living inside

Speak, My Sister! Speak!

Let not another’s words define you…

The Price of a Smile

The Price of a Smile

People,

Let’s talk about people. We need each other. Our interactions make the world go round. In addition, they make life interesting. It would be nice if people could be nicer to each other, if we could love genuinely. It doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice ourselves, but a little kindness does help.

A thank you and an excuse me, a smile on one’s face—all bring us closer together, closer to our humanity. It does not mean wearing our hearts on our sleeves, rather it means recognizing that everyone has said heart and that we all bleed when cut.

Life is—can be—kind at times and if we live long enough, we discover it can also be cruel. Wouldn’t it be great if we could treat each other as though we understood that fact? Wouldn’t it be great if we treated one another with the understanding that life is precious and that no matter how difficult circumstances are for another, being kind to other human beings has the potential to soften the harshness that life can sometimes present?

In this present political climate, wherein division seems rampant and the “us vs. them” mentality abounds [insert here: we all bleed red, we all bleed red, we all bleed red…],I am reminded of when I first moved overseas to live in the United Arab Emirates back in 2012. I was a female Westerner of color, speaking with a New York accent and I wore my long dreadlocked hair uncovered.

The Emirati women stared at me through their cloth niqabs (face coverings), leaving me to only guess what may have been going through their minds regarding their perception of me. I only saw their charcoal outlines eyes and I would smile with the hope that they could see I was harmless and my intent was not to come and destroy their cultures and traditions, but to teach their children English as part of the government’s public school initiative. Without fail I would recognize smiling eyes in return.

I would not have noticed them had I not witnessed the immediate feedback in response to my own facial expression. Then I would follow my smile with a “hello” as the lady or ladies and I passed each other in the mall, supermarket, etc. I would soon learn the Islamic greeting of “Salaam alayukum,” and the responses remained 100% positive.

As a native New Yorker, I was raised to keep my guard up and to not make eye contact, but I have had to alter that behavior as it is conducive to the habit of objectifying people, making them things, not living creations formed from the same flesh and blood as I.

In addition, I regard time as an invaluable, irreplaceable resource. Self-checkout lines, ATM’s and online shopping simplify tasks in many ways, but they also limit human interaction. Thus, while I am outside in public spaces that require my physical presence, often the last interaction I want to have is a human one. It only follows that that would be the most likely time to become frustrated by collective human behavior [insert cringe here].

When that occurs, I am learning to slow down and take a deep breath. I then break those behaviors down into one person at a time. This conscious effort allows me to evoke my skill of empathy. I imagine each person as a mother or father, as a husband or wife, as a son or daughter having the worst day of his or her life and that I am just one portion of it, as he or she is just that one portion for me. Then I make eye contact and I smile, a smile from me that costs little, yet it says a lot. And I imagine that this slight interaction might brighten one’s day, the same way theirs does for me. And that, Good People, is always worth the price.

The Life of a Writer

The Life of a Writer

I used to believe that the artist, specifically the writer, sat somewhere in obscurity, pounding out words destined to be a best seller. As voracious readers around the world waited for the next tome, each writer sat at his or her desk, hair frazzled, coffee nearby, surrounded by a floor strewn with the crumpled papers, as the writer—my brethren—created.

Now that I am a writer, I know better.

True writers don’t always produce great novels, some of us are not even into fiction, but we all HAVE to write. It is like air in our lungs, it is the event that keeps us grounded, it is the one activity that is so much a part of us that if you take it away, we fall apart. In the metaphorical sense, we seem off balance, we are easily irritated as resentment quickly builds when we are unable to write. If we do it to ourselves (and we writers are so guilty of this), we may end up physically falling apart. We don’t eat properly, we neglect exercise, medical checkups and dental visits, and we may even begin to shop excessively, believing that the more “things” we have, the better off we will be when, in reality, God has given the writer everything he or she needs: an idea and the ability to communicate it.

So today I write, after ignoring my blank page for the last five days, and I feel like a thirsty cow. The Holstein type. White with black spotting or vice versa [insert perspective here] and lapping up drink, ready to create cud so I can spit it out or feed little ones. Size is not the issue here, quality is what counts.


Related image

So today I write…

No disturbances allowed.

And when the phone rings—ignore, ignore, ignore, or better still, silence it (*Vibrate will not do.).

Still I write.

Dis-ease all around, distractions and disturbances all aiming to pull me away from this keyboard with little success, because if I can just get over the hump, past my word count, through my writing time (carved out just for and by me) then I win

And tomorrow we begin again

—The Writer’s Life.

When you love somebody, there should be some sign

When you love somebody, there should be some sign

sounds of morn,

undisturbed.

Birds sleep in peace,

crickets chirp.

Animals begin to stir

(—aware dawn is on the horizon),

In wait.

God assured last night—

(if you awake)

all necessary today

will be available.

We are given one chance at a lifetime, though many chances throughout a series of 24-hour days. Living that life with grace, courage, and aplomb are those whom we usually admire (or envy). They take little for granted, being gracious, grateful for all and they know there is a greater plan, there is something bigger than they. I believe people who live this life must know God on a personal level.

Our Heavenly Father is strange to disappoint, rather intent to bless, heal, encourage, provide and cover each of us under a wide umbrella of His Love. But do we even consider His Love? Not always. And it is about time that we do. It’s not about hearts and valentines and all kinds of lovey-dovey. It’s more about recognizing when He speaks directly to us. Are we listening to His Voice? It is clear He knows ours.

God knows everything about us. The little and big surprises and delights He gives us. Sunshine, health, a sound mind and body. Laughter, family, friends, ice cream, music, books, dancing, animals, balance of nature. Oceans, snow, flowers, mountains, beaches, bicycles, kisses, babies, puppies, sunshine, cake (and brownies), hugs, and on and on and on…

Just like men and women, I believe God also has a Love Language. Do we as objects of his affection know what He delights in? Do we care enough to try to do that which will make Him smile?

I love Him because He first loved me.

If you love somebody, you spend time with them, right? You talk with them, you listen to them and you know the sound of their voice, right?

To whom much is given much is required…

Or do we just continue in our perception of God’s Love that the preacher delivers to us on Sunday, or the one Momma or Grandma worships (worshipped!) as secondary evidence? This is the safe route. It allows us to call ourselves Christian without demanding anything extra in the way of growing in faith, knowledge and relationship with the One we say loved us enough to send Jesus as a way of salvation.

As sophisticated people who access fingertip technology, we can do better. We research everything else—from the casualties of immigration law to the time it takes to roast a chicken or change a tire. How is it, most people do not actively cultivate a personal relationship with The Creator, a relationship whereby we can tell another person what God has done for ‘me’?

We as people of the Christian faith can do better. Today’s present of 24-hours would be a great time to start.

Ending Ramadan

Ending Ramadan

“After a good night’s sleep what is the first thing you want to do? Be productive!” The chorus inside my head resounded this hungry morning.

It is Ramadan. I am not Muslima. I, in fact, am Christian. My husband is Muslim. And I participate in Ramadan with him.

So what is that like? It is like a struggle that gets easier with time. This is year four for me. And I can tell you the benefits (from a Christian perspective), and I can tell you what I have learned in the process.

Food had a power in my life that loses its hold during Ramadan. This is an issue I have decided to (finally) surrender to God this season.

Focusing on my prayer life and studying God’s Word create introspection when I am fasting. This is increased due to the 30-day time span of the Islamic Holy Season, wherein it is said the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) received the first revelations of the Quran.

My respect for my husband grows with each passing Ramadan, as we discuss the contextual similarities between the Bible and the Quran. Are there differences? For sure. However, marriage and unity is about seeking and respecting commonalities, is it not?

When I pray with my husband I know how to complete the ablution (ritual washing) and I fully cover (including hair, neck and shoulders) before I stand slightly behind and to his right, on my personal prayer rug.

Fasting from sunup to sundown, which is a little over 16 hours where we live on the East Coast of the United States, I am meticulous with my meal choices during Iftar (the meal which breaks the fast) and Suhoor (the last meal eaten before daybreak). If I am going to work or if I have a lot of activities scheduled, abstaining from heavy carbohydrates and caffeine is key, as both offer a short-lived fullness and quick boost, insufficient for most days. Instead, protein in various forms is the way to go with water being my liquid of choice. I also schedule the bulk of my activity EARLY. As the day wears on, energy level will drop more than usual.

Christian fasting comes in various forms. During Lent I give up something I love. It is supposed to be a 40-day season of sacrifice. So I have given up bread, chocolate, sugar, and even wine when I used to drink it. Other types of fasting include no solid foods, and the allowing of only clear fluids. These fasts can be for a period of days, once a week, 12 hours, etc. however, with each type of fast, water is almost always allowed during the (Christian) fast.

Unable to drink or swallow anything, even water, during Ramadan helped me to fully appreciate the spiritual aspect of this blessed season. When you are experiencing 30 days of prayer, self-examination and fasting along with millions of others across the world, how can God not pay attention?

As Eid Al-Fitr approaches tomorrow, I look forward to attending the service at the mosque, and I look forward to being able to eat on my “normal” schedule, but more important than the above, I look forward to a continuing respect for a culture that is not my own, but in which I am invited to participate for as long as I would like.

*Note: This essay was written in 2017. Due to medical reasons, I did not participate in Ramadan this year.