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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This Person I've Become - I Weep

I guess I've always had a sensitive side but it was hidden under the many layers of me. I think it initially surprised everyone in my family when as the Matron of Honor at my brother's wedding, there were tears streaming down my face as his bride walked down the aisle. Everyone asked what was wrong with me, including my brother - the groom; I was simply happy because I love love!

This sensitive side started to emerge after I had children. I found myself being sad when my children were sad. Sometimes a tear would fall during a conversation but I'd say it was allergies.

I knew something had definitely changed in me when I found myself crying during movies and at commercials.

I used to cry out of anger but it seems I've gone way beyond that. It seems like almost any emotion is a reason to cry.

So these days I've found myself crying:
When I think of the state of affairs in this crazy world we live in - the uncaringness and hardness of the human heart; I weep.

The resilience of people of who have overcome the unthinkable - I've been reading many stories on the Syrian refugees....all I can say is "My God."  In a similar vein when I see what Black people went through in America and what they continue to go through, I'm astounded; I weep.

When I think about the state of my family - there's sickness, job loss, estrangement and a host of other trials; I weep.

Of course, recently, after completing a run, I found myself losing all composure and crying. Snot falling, loud sobbing and total convulsions as I cried. It came out of nowhere and left in the same manner.

But I also weep when I think about the fact that I am loved, that I am married, that my children are happy, that I have another day to be alive.

I won't ignore my feelings that bring tears to my eyes; instead, I'll let them be, knowing that they provide greater clarity.

.....You have collected all my tears in your bottle.You have recorded each one in your book. 

What makes you weep?


Friday, September 23, 2016

On a Lighter Note....

In the past month, I've traveled a lot. While returning to the US with my daughters, going through  customs, in Miami I was asked by the officer if we were sisters. He kept expressing his disbelief and didn't believe it until he confirmed it by looking at our passports. I have 3 daughters and was with the 13 and 22-year-old. In NY, whenever I went out with my daughters, folks thought we were friends or sisters. At one store, in particular, the cashier asked where my daughter was from, not realizing she was my daughter and I said, "she's my daughter." She nearly freaked out. By the way, I'm never anticipating these responses.

This has been happening for awhile - I distinctly remember 5 years ago when we were returning from Jamaica, again at Customs, I was asked if we were sisters.

At my mom's funeral - someone had an in-depth conversation with my daughter believing she was me.  It was quite humorous - after the fact.

When I visited my mom in the hospital, several times I noticed the smoothness and softness of her skin. Though sick, the skin on her face was beautiful. I don't believe she had any wrinkles.

So honestly, I have to say I have good genes. But in addition, I only wash with Cetaphil Face wash and the only moisturizer I use on my face is Philosophy's Hope in a Jar. When I visit Jamaica, I visit Jencare Skin Farm and may purchase a moisturizer from their skin care line. Periodically, I use bentonite clay to cleanse my face and I use baking soda as a natural exfoliant as needed.

I tried using oils and butters on my face but found that over time my pores became clogged and I developed pimples. I drink lots of water on a daily basis and ingest a green smoothie daily.

I enjoy the compliments, and will accept them gracefully as long as they're being given. Because I'm sure there will come a day when someone believes me when I tell them my age; until such time, the youthful compliments never get old!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30 [NLT]

What's your beauty routine?


Friday, September 16, 2016

Overwhelmed by Love

Since my mom's passing, I've felt the love from everyone - near or far, who has expressed a thought a kind word, shared a gift, or given a hug.  The only appropriate thing I can find myself saying in response to all of this is, "I love you." I'm sure it catches some by surprise because this feeling and its expression surprised me.

I don't typically walk around expressing my love with every human interaction - but I do it now and I may never stop. It's like my mother was not supposed to die. She wasn't sickly. As my dad said, she never acted like she was sick. Her body may have been ill but her mind was well. She still talked and had that laugh. She read her Bible and other books daily. And she kept laughing. Until she couldn't anymore and then we knew; we all knew how sick she was.

My mom passed on Thursday. On Tuesday at the end of a family visit, my dad said..."I love you;" she responded, "I love you too."  I do believe this was the last thing she said because on Wednesday she was unresponsive. My mother loved my dad and all of her children; I'm picking up the baton and will continue to spread that love like she did. Her home going service was a testament to her love for others. Our family of eight grew by leaps and bounds because Mummy loved people and welcomed them into her heart and home. We were all better for it.

This void that is now here is filled with the love of those remaining. So don't be surprised if at the end of each conversation you hear me say, "I love you." Loving is part of what we are told to do anyhow and love, though not always easy in practice, was never meant to be complicated.  

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 

My mom is gone and I am sad. But even in this sadness, I'm forced to be a better person. I love you all.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My Son and Me

This post catches me by surprise as I never expected to have this depth of emotion around the relationship I have with my son. My son already holds a special place in my heart as he was my first child and he is the only boy. My son introduced me to motherhood and it was a really pleasant introduction. I've never had difficult pregnancies or deliveries; as a matter of fact, I gave birth to  all 4 children without any pain meds (I'm either strong or stupid!). When I had my son, I can't say I knew what love was immediately, but over time I learned.

My son was a pleasant baby with an easy going disposition. He was always a foodie who ate well. As a matter of fact, because I was a new mother and he was a good eater, I didn't introduce foods properly so when he developed allergies, I was never sure what he was allergic to. He always seemed to love being around me and wanting to please me. Though this sounds idyllic it wasn't always the case. As is the way with children, as they grow they don't always adhere to your wishes. Also since he was my first child, I must admit that his quiet, pleasant disposition cloaked a whirlwind of emotions that I was not attuned to.

For the past week, I have been in NY spending time with my mother who was gravely ill. Through circumstances, my son was here also. When I came in on Friday night, I was tired but one of my brothers convinced me that I should stop by the hospital that night to visit my mother. I was surprised by her condition yet happy to see her. She said, "tell me everything," in a deep slow voice that I had never heard from her. She was alert enough to remember that I was not a night person and I was able to have some honest dialogue with her around her situation. She expressed the desire to go "home" and never anticipating all of "this".  I spent a couple of hours at the hospital and told her I would be back later the next day.

On Saturday, I went with some family friends to visit her,around 11am. On that drive, I realized that walking to the hospital was a viable option that would probably allow me to reflect and unload each day as I walked. My son called me around midday on Saturday to let me know he was on his way back and he would meet me at the hospital Saturday evening. From that point on, until her death we walked, talked, and spent time together.

Though my mom was transitioning from Earth to her final resting place my son being with me each step of the way made it bearable. Our routine was to walk to the hospital, read Our Daily Bread to her, pray and sometimes sing. Then she just wanted company in the room. So we'd talk, watch TV or take turns being with her. Each day she got less and less responsive. Wednesday was the worse - she slept all day and ate nothing. She couldn't suck water from a straw, but I was able to give her 2 teaspoons of water.

When we came in on Thursday morning, we both sort of knew without saying anything. My son read the Daily Bread and prayed. Then we proceeded to sing. Every hymn or chorus that was a favorite of hers, we sang. My son doesn't know hymns (he's a millennial), but he found them on the phone and joined in. We made beautiful music together. I determined that I would sing for as long as it took.  Her blood pressure was very low and dropping rapidly. Her doctor came by to update me on her condition and told me what I suspected. As we kept singing my son hugged me, held grandma and sang along with me. I notified my siblings and anyone nearby to come. During one of our songs, I heard her gasp and take her final breath. My sister made it as did my older brother and they joined in the choir! My sister placed her hand on my mom's chest and felt when her heart stopped beating, but I was not aware of this until the nurse came to change the IV and mentioned that her heart had stopped. September 1st, 2016 at 12:18 pm my mom's heart stopped beating and my son was right there with me.

I never anticipated this connection from my son, but my heart is so full. My mom is no longer ill and she was truly peaceful when she left this earth. I'm happy about that. I'm overwhelmed by the love, kindness, and compassion of my son. I raised him. He was the first and I admit I didn't always know what I was doing, but God knew. As my mother would say to her grandson, "May you have God's riches blessings on your life."

Rest well, Mummy.

We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:2,7,8 [NLT]

PS - I love all my children equally.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gifts and Talents

We're all born with gifts, but we struggle to identify them, how to use or gifts and when to use them.

I connected with a friend online recently who has a way with words - her writings are thought provoking and moving. I encouraged her to write more - perhaps in the form of a blog. She expressed some uncertainty and fear about taking the next step.

As I thought about her situation, I was reminded that the Lord has given all of us gifts and talents to be used. Both grow with effectiveness when utilized and are intended to be used on behalf of others to help each other. They are not meant for selfish purposes or to be hoarded.

There is a distinction between gifts and talents as the gifts mentioned in the new testament are spiritual gifts imparted to us once we are believers. But we may also have natural talents and gifts also that we were born with or discovered along life's journey. The difference is in how we have received them but the Bible can lend some insight on how we use our gifts (natural or spiritual) and talents.

Spiritual gifts are itemized in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 (notice both of these are in chapter 12 of their books). Romans 12:3-8 lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others (in a general sense), teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy. First Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as the word of wisdom (ability to communicate spiritual wisdom), the word of knowledge (ability to communicate practical truth), faith (unusual reliance upon God), the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a language that one has not studied), and interpretation of tongues. The third list is found in Ephesians 4:10-12, which speaks of God giving to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. [Source: gotquestions.org]
First and foremost our gifts and talents should be used. There are to be used in love, to help each other and with grace. Our gifts aren't simply given to us to hold on to because if we don't use what we have been given naturally - the need is still there and others will come along and fill that need. It may be harder for them - but the need will be met.

When you have a gift or talent, the skill associated with it comes easily to you. You're almost baffled that others don't see things the way you do, and no matter how you oversimplify or explain, it will never be as simple to the other person...because they don't have that gift or talent. This is a measure of grace.

Our natural gifts and talents may coincide and work in sync with our spiritual gifts. For example, I've discovered that I'm a runner and I seem to know how to encourage people. So if I'm jogging with a group and I see someone struggling, I can run alongside them and encourage them. This person may be so touched by what I did, that they may be curious about other aspects of my life. It may provide an opportunity for them to get to know the Christ in me whether by speaking to me or coming to church with me. Ironically, some may think that this is not special and everyone can encourage (or everyone can run). But everyone can't. We tend to minimize what we are blessed with. Once we recognize our gifts and talents, we shouldn't get hung up on the fact that we have the gift, but rather look for ways to use them. Our gifts and talents can be manifested in many ways; there's no limit on how you can use your gifts and might I add, no timeline. Use them for His Glory until you can't use them anymore.

 We have gifts and we have talents and abilities - all come from the same Source but we still need to exercise the option of using them. Same source, different measure for each person.

The giver of all gifts - spiritual or natural, and talents is God. If your fearful about exercising what you have been blessed with, step out in faith and use it. You may be surprised at where it will take you.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 [NLT]

Are you struggling with using your gifts or talents?

P.S. This post was inspired by a message I heard on Sunday.