Mother’s Day 2015

Mother’s Day. Perhaps the ONE day mothers can get their children to attend church. Mother’s Day. Either you love it, hate it or if you have children yourself, you may be ambivalent. I think that half of us look forward to it, while the other half seriously dreads the day. I saw a post earlier this week lamenting the fact that it is difficult for those without children to attend church on Mother’s Day because a. they don’t have children because it’s been difficult to conceive or there is no partner or b. they just don’t want children or c. they have lost their own mother. I read the post. It gave me pause. I try to be compassionate for those who have not had children. Heck, I AM compassionate because that’s how I’m wired. I physically gave birth to one child, but have several children. I lost one child through miscarriage, so I carry that too.  I almost didn’t have my child….well, that’s not entirely true. Her father wasn’t “ready” for a child so proposed an abortion. In order to have an abortion, you must be at a certain point in your pregnancy. I wasn’t there yet. I knew I wasn’t far enough along.  I lied at the clinic. The lady said, “Congratulations. You know your body. You’re only 5 weeks.” I STILL remember returning to my mother’s home with her standing in the door way, blocking the entrance. “They wouldn’t do it because I’m not far enough along, ” I said. She hugged me and said, “Praise the Lord.”

I acquiesced. It was just easier than taking a stand. I knew…hoped that what they said was true…I wasn’t far enough along. Thank God. I cannot imagine life without my Baby Girl.

My heart breaks for those who have lost children. I Cannot.Imagine. My heart breaks for those who have lost their own mothers. I.Cannot.Imagine. My heart breaks for those who cannot conceive. I.Cannot.Imagine.  But, what I will say is this: Mothers – whether by birth, adoption, role or whatever – sacrifice so much of themselves, their time, their resources, etc. Mother’s Day is ONE day out of 365 days where we actually honor the most sacred job on the planet.

To ALL of you who accept the title of “Mother”  – no matter how you received it, I salute you.  I honor you. It is often a thankless job, but rewarding nonetheless. And, to you, I wish…A very Happy Mother’s Day!

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Walking with Christian

Despite his small stature, I saw him. I mean, I think I heard him call out for me. He sat in the middle seat of the airplane. I told my daughter, maybe we should sit here, standing in the middle of the narrow aisle in front of the little boy. If I’m being brutally honest, I’m not even sure why I said that because on the first leg of our flight we were trying to avoid frazzled mothers with baby in arms, young children, men who were just a bit “too friendly,” and people who otherwise might invade the precious space of our dreaded middle seat. Alexis asked the little boy if we could sit with him. Timidly, he shook his head in the affirmative. For this leg of our trip, we swapped; she took the window seat and I took the aisle.

Minutes later, all I could hear was sniffling. As I looked over at him, he pulled his small, worn Miami Heat cap over his face. Mother instincts took over. “Are you alright?” I asked softly. This time he shook his head from side to side and the dam broke. I asked him if he was scared, and he answered “no.” Then I asked, “What’s wrong?” “I miss my Dad,” he sobbed. My heart melted even more at that moment. I took him in my arms and assured him that everything would be ok. I began to ask about his time with his Dad. What did he do while he was with him, and was he on Spring Break? Thankfully, he began to settle down and get comfortable. I talked, cared for, and doted on him as though he were my own. Truth is, he is mine. While I gave birth to only one child, I have many. In fact, the reason I was on the airplane in the first place is that my Baby Girl is getting married this weekend. I didn’t give birth to her, but she is mine. She became mine through marriage, and though the marriage didn’t last, she is STILL mine.

Ironically (well, not really when you trust Jesus) I was reading a book on the plane called, “Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream,” by David Platt. We have gotten so comfortable in our Christian walk; so much so that it looks like a really bad interpretation of the life Jesus lived. So often we are sitting back waiting to be served, waiting for a convenient time to serve others, but only if it doesn’t cost us too much. I mean, really. That was me on that plane. I didn’t want to be bothered. After all, I had a hard week. I was tired. I needed to decompress. It was all about me.

As I think about my flight yesterday, I am thanking God for speaking to me through David Platt’s book. (I love a book that challenges me and my perspectives, and makes me better.) Thinking outside of myself is what made me want to sit next to Christian. Ok. That’s not really true. The truth is, it was not a conscious decision. I did it without really thinking about it. My lesson in this situation is that there are many more children and adults like six-year-old Christian, who need just a little bit of my light when their own light is dimmed or the bulb has just flat out blown. What if I were more conscious about people who are around me who may be smiling on the outside, but falling apart on the inside? What if I lived a less extravagant life and gave more? What if I truly committed myself to the Great Commission?

Later on at Baggage Claim, we saw Christian with his mom. He was smiling. As he walked behind her pulling is gray suitcase, he waved and gave us a big grin. His mom looked over and smiled, too. Now here’s another truth. Alexis and I only had about 30 minutes to get off the plane, collect our luggage (thank God for “bags fly free with Southwest”) and pick up our rental car before the counter closed at midnight. I told Christian he had to wait to deplane until the flight attendant came to get him. I think he grimaced. Lord knows if he had asked me to wait with him, I would have. Thankfully, the flight attendant came right away. Maybe as I continue to grow outside of myself I will not wait to be asked, but will offer myself, my time, my finances, my comfort as a sacrifice…

I am Trayvon Martin…

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               Today was a typical hot, sticky Georgia summer day. Even as I walked across the parking lot trying to keep from sweating from the heat emanating from the asphalt, I saw him.  I was completely aware of my surroundings. I had my wallet, keys and iPhone in hand.  As I watched this young man, early 20s wearing a red and white checkered shirt, cargo khaki shorts and black sandals with white socks (only in Decatur, GA), walking towards me, I mentally prepared for battle. This incidence reminded me of a time when my line sister,  Lisa Kemp Howell, and I were walking up and down the streets of Brooklyn, New York looking for an apartment for her. Same scenario.  I saw a lady walking towards me in my peripheral vision. I mentally prepared for battle then too, except that it became very necessary. She “bumped” into me, but I was ready. I immediately pushed her hard in her chest with both hands and said with as much attitude as I could, “What the %$&! is wrong with you?!” She said, “Oh, I’m sorry, Baby, I’m sorry.” It was clear she was going for my purse/wallet. Where am I going with this? Bear with me . I PROMISE you that IF I feel that I am in ANY type of danger and flight is not a viable option, I will fight with everything within me. If it comes down to a perpetrator or me, I WILL fight like hell or die trying.

                So this got me to thinking about the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman is charged with his murder and his defense is that Trayvon was the aggressor even though he pursued Trayvon after being told expressly not to.  If I thought someone was out to harm me as I’m sure he thought George Zimmerman was out to harm him, I would have to decide whether it was going to be him or me.  And, I too, would have fought like hell.

What I Learned During My 21-Day Fast

21-day-fastnodateIn December, a mere five days before Christmas, I waited patiently for the phone call that would inform me whether I would continue employment with the company where I’ve worked for 21 years.  If I’m being honest, I admit that I was ready to walk away with a healthy severance package that would offer me enough time to figure out what I wanted to do in the next phase of my life. I put the decision in the Lord’s hands as I acquiesced that all I wanted was His best — whatever that looked like.

“You have been retained,” my boss informed me at 12:22 p.m. on December 21.  My call came about 13 minutes earlier than my scheduled time. I really didn’t hear too much after that. I wasn’t sure how I felt about being retained.  I think deep down, I knew I was going to be retained…just like all the previous times. I don’t know how I knew…I just knew.

As it turned out, I had to learn three new products during a 3-week time period which just happened to coincide with my annual 21-Day Fast. I typically do the Daniel Fast which means that I abstain from caffeine, meat, sugar, dairy,  processed food, alcohol, etc. I was ambivalent about doing the fast, mostly because studying for new products can test your mettle.  Learning one product is not so bad.  Mastering two products is even achievable.   Learning the third product, which truthfully takes two-and-a-half weeks to fully master by itself, sent me close to the edge. Thankfully, nobody pushed me.

I began my fast, knowing that I needed to conquer my food addiction. I snack and overeat during stressful times. I wasn’t sure about giving up coffee with so much studying looming before me. However, what I was sure about was that I was being called to fast. At the time of this writing, I am just a few hours away from the end of my fast. As I reflect on my fast, here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  My God really is sufficient. He sustained me through these 21 days. I honestly missed coffee just one day out of the fast and didn’t experience cravings until the very last few days. I had high energy with eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts and drinking water and Naked brand protein drinks after my strenuous workouts.

2.  I have another business I need to start. That’s all I will say about that one for now.

3.  My body is truly a temple, and I should treat it as such. While fasting, I was able to work out 4-5 times a week and practice yoga 2-3 time a week.  I have to admit, I get my sleep!  I’m pretty good about going to bed at 10 p.m. so that I can rise at 4:30 a.m. for my workouts.

4. I have an awesome support system. My family and my friends have been my rocks, even when I was tired from studying all day, couldn’t see straight, and was just downright cranky.

5. I should never get too busy to dream. I started reading a book (it was assigned to me by my new manager) called, “The Rhythm of Life,” by Matthew Kelly.  As I read through the first few chapters, I realized that I do a fairly decent job of living in the moment, but haven’t devoted enough time to writing out my dreams or just sitting and figuring out what those deep down dreams are.

These are a few things that I learned during my daily devotional time. I would say that it was a very successful fast, and I’m ready for some bacon and eggs and a cup of coffee!

I AM…

I could feel myself staring, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the bright red, close-fitting t-shirt.  I’m sure my mouth was open wide enough to catch a fly.  What I couldn’t figure out was why he chose to wear that particular shirt to church.  In big, bold letters, the late twenty-something’s shirt read, “I AM AN EX-PORN ADDICT.”

I guess this was his “scarlet letter” of sorts.  What a bold and courageous act walking around with his sin emblazoned across his
chest.  What if we all walked around with our sins emblazoned across our chests? Personally, I don’t think they make a
shirt big enough for all of my transgressions.  (And, no, I’m not going to list them here for you.)

What would your t-shirt say? I am an adulterer, murderer, liar, fornicator, thief, or fill in the blank with whatever your transgression happens to be.  It is no longer about whom we were, but about whom we are in Christ Jesus.  He died a slow and painful death taking on the sins of the world.  So no matter how we may complete the sentence, “I am…,” those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ experience complete redemption and have all of their transgressions covered by the One who is the

GREAT I AM…

KEEPING UP WITH THE SMITHS

The Smiths don’t have anything on me!  They get a new car, I’m getting a newer, bigger, better car.  They go to Disney World on vacation; I’m going on a 7-night cruise to the Caribbean.  After all, I AM a Jones.  So what if I max out my credit cards and don’t have enough money to pay my mortgage or any of my other bills?  Oh, I know! I will go and get food stamps; that way I can still eat. While I’m at it, I think I will go get a few new outfits for my vacation, and you KNOW I have to get my hair, nails and toes done!

How am I going to pay for it?

Ha! I decided to raise my DEBT CEILING!!!

Hope I stepped on a few toes…

THE MAKING OF A MAN

My arms were loaded with 7 or 8 aluminum chafing pans and wire racks that my friend returned to me. They clearly were not heavy just awkward. As I made my way along the narrow, curvy walk way of the park balancing the pans, a boy about 10 on a blue mountain bicycle appeared to peddle directly towards me. I actually stepped off the walkway into the unkempt grass to avoid being hit by him as I cursed under my breath. Of course, my first thought was, I know he sees me with all these pans. Before I could even finish the thought, another boy about the same age started walking directly towards me as though he was going to just knock me down. Now, I’m thinking, what in the world is wrong with these kids?

I mean, this kid was on a mission. He had a look of determination on his face as he made a bee line towards me. I’m wondering if this kid is just actually going to knock me down. When he got closer to me he held out both arms and said, “Let me take those for you.” He didn’t wait for me to answer which probably was a good thing because I think my mouth was still wide open in disbelief. This 10-year-old boy grabbed the pans and the wire racks out of my hands and walked with me as I went to put them in my Jeep.

I thanked the kid profusely. I wanted to know his name, his mother’s and father’s names, hell, I wanted to know what made him help me. He told me that he could barely see my face above the stack of pans and he didn’t want me to fall. What?! This kid gives me hope. He is already on his way to becoming a man. I see so many young people who seem to have no respect for adults these days. They talk and act any kind of way with little or no repercussion. I don’t blame the children as much as I blame their parents.

Parents, teach your children how to be men and women. And, just for the record, make sure you are modeling appropriate behavior in front of them because values are caught and not taught. It is not enough to do as a say, not as I do.

Brandon, thank you for helping me so willingly and not looking for anything in return. Thank you for giving me hope, and thank you to your parents for raising a respectful kid and for teaching you to be a man…

I’m just sayin’……