April 12, 2019

At What Cost?

My parents used to say, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” Sometimes the journey to destiny is just that, a fight. When Esther was selected as a candidate to become queen, she spent an entire year being scrutinized and groomed before she got the crown (Esther 1 and 2). I imagine some of the other hopefuls undermined and sniped at her. Esther could not allow herself to be distracted. Passing the initial tests earned her a crown, but the crown positioned her to save her people. She had to overcome doubt, fear of disappointing herself, and fear of death. 

There are tough challenges on your road to destiny. Will you push through the things that block your path? Are you willing to pay the price? Will you fight to stay focused? Please, don't give up. You have what it takes to keep moving. Ask yourself, “What am I willing to suffer?” Queen Esther was confronted by her elder (Cousin Mordecai) who reminded her that if she would not go to the King uninvited, God would use someone else. She humbled herself and admitted it would be impossible to move forward without guidance from the Lord and the support of her people. Gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16). It was a do or die moment.

There is no getting to destiny without opposition. Esther contended with enemies. Her determination was bolstered not only by prayers, but eventually, the King’s favor.  She kept moving even though she was scared. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear. Don't let fear control you.  

The cost of destiny is the sacrifice of your plans and desires if they are not in line with what God has called you to do. It is a persistent and perpetual posture of humility, even when it hurts. It is an unshakable resolve to move forward no matter the price. It is understanding that you need good relationships with those above you (leaders) those beside you (peers) and those you serve. The ultimate cost of destiny is relinquishing your will for God’s.

April 10, 2019

The Last Dance

Graceful fingers slightly curve
Arms above, her
Head tilts back, neck elongates
Body snaps,
And twirls, then twirls again
Leg goes up, extends, around
Then down
To touch the ground.
She moves like notes on melodies
Entwined, emotive symphonies
Her heartbeat fills the room
Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom,
It touches everyone,
A flow
From head to toe.
We feel it.

Then, she smiles,
And we know.
We know her passion to
Awaken dreams
Thought dead in those
Who’d accepted
Defeat instead.
“Rise up!
Get moving!
You’ve got this!
You can do it!”
That is what she said.
And they rose
She knew it.

Soft arms
Fiercely embrace,
A sweet smile
Emanating grace,
Spontaneously unfolds
And wraps a multitude
Brings them together,

Childish giggles
Echo as they
Run among
Those gone before.
They gaze in awe
In rooms where
History’s laid out,
At things once old,
Now new to them.
Rotary phone?
A typewriter, and
Feathered hats?
Flapper dress and
Polished Mary Janes
Crossing lanes -
To meet?
“Yes,” she said,
“Don’t you
forget -
To remember.”

She kneels
at the end
of the number.
Arms outstretched,
Head lifted
Smile radiant
Eyes closed.
It was her final pose
The last dance we would see
Now every move
 is Heavenly.
She’s twirling with the angels.

In Memory of  Brenda Cooper

May 28, 2018

Afraid to Shine

I learned early, to hide my gifts. If one was discovered, I shied away from compliment, that is, until the gifts decided –  with or without me, they would be. I write this now with understanding, but it came long after I’d been bruised, emotions battered, rejection a constant reality I could not reconcile. Why the cruelty? What had I done? Now I know, those who were cruel shared my confusion. They didn’t understand their behavior any more than I did.

I could not suppress my God-design, and no one knew the struggle. My young mind’s limited comprehension garbled words and stuffed them down my throat, into my chest, where self-denial had its genesis. I moved through life inside that haze, I mean maze, until I met Mrs. Gordon, the journalism teacher who stoked those words to life. Gentle encouragement squeezed them up and out onto thinly lined pages and some morphed to become colored pictures in my head, silent movies in which I was the heroine.

Years after, a brash, handsome boy expressed interest as they are wont to do but withdrew it just as quickly. He had no idea that he’d inflicted damage on an already fractured soul. But, I didn’t cry, didn’t complain. I’d found a place which I deemed safe, acquaintances no longer needed. Instead, I wrote and sang. I poured every emotion out on notes and vocal textures. People felt the words I crooned yet didn’t hear a thing I’d said.

It wasn’t until after marriage, at the start of pregnancy, that the crumpled, faded petals of my spirit furiously unfurled. As if supernaturally the life growing inside me was an instrument of transformation. I had an added purpose, to impart without inflicting harm on the child who I’d soon meet. As she grew, I looked at all the pieces I’d become and colored them, then glued precisely. Bit by bit a new, a stronger me, began a slow ascent.  After all, that tiny person would depend on me to keep her whole. I didn’t know that purpose would become my lifeline.

All these years later, fragments of my brokenness thought long gone poked around, looking for their redemption. They were revived by some who judged, rejected, misunderstood – even ostracized.  I crawled back into reflection, another leg of the journey, another lap of the race to be true to me no matter the circumstance.  

Others sought to drown me in their own uncertainty, rejection, insecurities, pain. Their slivers, too, seeking to be redeemed.  I had a choice, help them by responding in a way which served us (yes, us) well.  Or, allow their shards to weaponize. 

No one wants that war.

Now, I stand in my truth. I am who God says and cannot be another. If my being is offensive, let’s agree to part. No sense casting shadows on another’s heart. We all deserve to be. I must tell you, I won’t shrink to pacify. All I am is me, no longer afraid to shine.

April 10, 2018

Wounded in the House of Friends

Zechariah 13:6 exposes an issue which honestly causes me distress when I consider it carefully. A prophet is asked, "What are these wounds in thine hands?" He replies, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." Use of the possessive, my, reveals the extent of pain in his pronouncement.

Friends love and are loved. They're trusted. There is an expectation of absolute loyalty. It is difficult to acknowledge, my friend hurt me. We know what to do with physical wounds. Certainly clean, apply ointment, bandage and give them time to heal. Do everything possible to avoid infection. Emotional pain is tough. How do we deal with a heart that is broken by someone we've allowed to touch it?

Think about this for a moment. Judas likely spent every waking moment with Jesus. They ate together. Christ washed his feet, yet, he betrayed Him with a kiss, to people who would kill Him (Luke 22). The betrayal was expected but painful anyway. Tamar never saw hers coming. She was raped by her brother Amnon when he deceived her into a compromising position by pretending to be ill. Afterwards, he put her out and locked the door (2 Samuel 13). Finally, King David's son, Absalom, conspired and took the throne from him. David ran to avoid being killed by his child (2 Samuel 15-19). Each scenario was an emotional minefield, and responses varied. Jesus surrendered and was tortured and killed. Tamar withdrew and became desolate, beyond redemption. David's heart was broken, but he fought to regain his throne. I am not sure how I would have reacted in any of these situations. 

A thirteen-year-old (I will call her Sheila) whose arms were covered in cigarette burns confessed that she put fire on her skin when the hurt in her heart was too much to bear. The physical pain momentarily dulled emotional trauma. I've been thinking of this because I feel an urgency to survive and properly manage painful processes. In my reflections on the matter, one thing is certain. If I focus on the wound, I will never get beyond it. To what then should I give the most energy? I decided, when my eyes are fixed on healing, that's what I'll move towards. 

Friendly fire is horrible and can be fatal if after care is not thoughtful. It requires a commitment to focus on healing although you are in pain. Be honest about what you are going through. You will need a support system (preferably a small but strong one) because there are times when they will have to hold you together until you can stand on your own. You address issues of the heart well when you also deal with your mental and spiritual state. If the mind and spirit are aligned, you are better positioned to handle the emotional roller coaster. 

Pray. Read the Psalms for examples of how David talked to God during his process. Forgive. It doesn't mean staying in relationship with those who have hurt you but forgiving allows you to let go. Letting go helps with healing. No matter the challenge, you can do this. You are not alone, and I am praying for you.