Alone With God

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Point Fermin, San Pedro, CA, May 2012

 

Every once in awhile I get away to be alone with God.  Sometimes it’s planned and sometimes I’m running for my sanity at the last minute.  I go whenever I feel the need but lately I feel the need to do this at regular intervals ie. monthly, quarterly, etc.   

Our designated meeting place is the Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro, California.  The lighthouse- I can’t think of a better place to go when I’m feeling lost.  I snapped the above photo last month when I went there to clear my head.  It’s simply breathtaking.  There, perched hundreds of feet above sea level, I feel God’s breath of life blowing gently through my locs and across my cheeks. This might come off as very selfish but I don’t really feel like revealing what I do on these trips.  This time is between me and God and I cherish those times very much.  This is our bonding time.

Looking over the Pacific ocean and across the sand and cliffs at all the wonderous works of God’s hands gives me hope and reminds me just how loving and great and forgiving and awesome my Father in heaven really is.

I love being in His presence no matter what the location is.  This just happens to be my favorite.   

Do you have a special place where you feel closer to God?  If not, you need to get one.  It is so worth it.

 

Bacon, Pine-sol & Incense

I almost hate to admit it but in some ways I’m just like my mom.  I love to clean when I’m stressed.  I can’t afford to join a gym and I hate running/jogging. Cleaning is my favorite way to let off steam.  It’s free, it’s readily available and the benefits last for a good while.  The smell of burning incense also makes me want to clean.  I’m not a neat freak by any means, but I do like things to be clean.  When I was a kid living with my mom, good times were scarce.  But when they happened it was a great thing. 

I used to wake up on some Saturday mornings to the smell of bacon and Pine-sol.  I’ve already shared in a previous post about my mom that she was a drug addict for many years.  She is also a veteran.  Those two things together make a woman who likes to wake up at 4 a.m. and clean.  For those who don’t know, heavy drug users do regular stuff at highly irregular hours; like washing the car at midnight.  For my mom it was cleaning at midnight, 2 a.m., 4 a.m., etc.  She’s a neat freak of epic proportions- picking lint off her navy blue carpet with her hands.  I blame the military for making her that way because my grandmother says she was a very messy kid.  I don’t know why, but almost every veteran I know wakes up extremely early in the morning, even when they have no particular place to be.  It’s like there was a timer set and placed in them during basic training and they forgot to disable it upon discharge from service.

Anyway, on VERY rare Saturday or Sunday mornings I would sometimes be awakened by the smell of bacon cooking and the “power of Pine-sol”.  By 7 a.m. my mom had cleaned the entire house, swept and mopped the floors and cooked breakfast.  Everything was immaculate.  After admiring mom’s work I would run to the table and gobble up all the good food, then it was off to get dressed and play outside.  At lunchtime I came back inside to the scent of incense burning.  Either Stevie Wonder, The Gap Band or The New Birth would be playing on the radio.  And there was my mom chillin’ on the couch with her legs crossed and cigarette in her hand.  She had a look of satisfaction that her house was clean.  She never lit incense until the house was clean.  This is probably my favorite childhood memory.  My mom was at peace.  The house was at peace.  My sisters were at peace.  I was at peace.

As a grown woman with my own house and family I clean on the weekends and I do burn incense when I’m done.  I enjoy cooking a big breakfast for my kids as much as they enjoy eating it.  Grits, eggs, bacon and toast are the perfect wake up call- but not before 8 a.m.!  And we all sit at the table and eat as Anthony Hamilton and Erykah Badu sing.

P.S. > I know you might be wondering how I can joke about my mom’s drug use and how it affected her, but her story is also part of my story.  And because I have truly forgiven her I can look back on my childhood and find joy in some of the little things 🙂

Pastor Mark Driscoll lays it all out. Women fear trusting men because men are just messing up. Girls, you’re not crazy after all! It’s true!

Marriage and Men

Black Women Deserve To Be Disrespected

Black women deserve to be disrespected because they don’t even respect themselves?  This is what society would have us think.  Black women continue to be a running joke for many people: angry, loud, abrasive, combative, lazy, needy, materialistic… the list goes on forever.  Even with the existence of shows like Jersey Shore and Housewives of Orange County where white or otherwise non-Black women fight, scream, curse, manipulate and spend tons of money, somehow Black women are still largely viewed as an embarrassment to womanhood and to the Black race.  Shows like Maury Povich, which almost always features Black women and men who make poor life choices, keep this BS going.  Black women deserve to be disrespected.  Says who?  I’m so glad you asked!

Black men.

Do a YouTube search of “Black women”.  Brace yourself.  It’s ugly and hateful.  Video after video talking about why Black women can’t find a man, why they don’t get married, why society doesn’t take them seriously.  Suggestions like ‘sit down and shut up’ to ‘just accept that you will always be single’ are given freely by BLACK MEN.  Yes.  Black men are on YouTube making videos about how much they hate Black women and why.  And then there are hundreds of comments on these videos from other men (presumably Black men) agreeing, and even throwing in a few very degrading and derogatory remarks for good measure.  These same men have Black mothers, sisters and grandmothers.  Some even mention their daughters.  This scares me.  These men are raising boys to be men who “think” as they do and believe as they believe.  It spreads like a deadly infection through families and communities.  I made myself so sick from watching these videos one day I just logged off and cried.  My heart was heavy for days afterward.  I had to fast and pray to get that spirit off my back.   It was that bad.

I could probably write a book on why these particular Black men choose to blame their women for every single thing that’s not right with the Black family.  That would be a waste of time and energy.  All I know is that having a man of your own race degrade you because of your race is both unsettling and infuriating.  It’s like watching a lion eat a lioness.  It’s unnatural.  And there are just as many videos of Black women spewing hatred of Black men.  What are we doing?  Of all the worries in the Black community, of all the threats to our growth and well-being this is THE deadliest of threats.  We are destroying ourselves from the inside out and laying out poisonous traps for future generations to find and ingest.  THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!

It’s no secret that women as a whole (myself included) need to have more self-respect and be the women that God created us to be.  I said women as a whole.  Anybody with eyes can see that these issues are not exclusive to any one race or culture.  Women everywhere are lacking CLASS (CLothes on your ASS).  And I know it’s because we sometimes think no one cares about a woman’s character anymore.  It’s all about sex now, some might say.  It kills me to see Black women buying into the lie that they’re worthless and unlovable.  They become discouraged and then they lower their standards by giving love to a man who doesn’t know how or want to love them back. 

Listen up! I want women everywhere, all my sisters of all colors, to know that the world is corrupt.  Our Father in heaven sees the huge burden we shoulder now.  Somebody reading this right now is shouldering a burden that a man should have, but refused to carry.  Know that God is not pleased because this is not the plan He has for your life.  And God holds Adam responsible first, then Eve.  These men are in for a rude awakening.

Do not lower your standards!  Do not believe the lies!  Chin up, chest out!  You are worth much more than you could ever know.  Says who?  I’m so glad you asked. 

God says so.  That’s who!

More Than I Can Bear

 

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Picture from oneyearbibleblog.com

Here’s a random thought. 

I love gospel music.  I grew up with it.  I sing it.  I hum it.  It’s on my playlist.  I know it like the back of my hand.  But, you know how you can sing a song for years without really paying attention to the lyrics?  And then one day…  

Well recently I’ve been thinking of a song that says “He’ll never put more on me than I can bear”.  Uh, I hate to break it to y’all but God will give you whatever it takes to bring you to your knees- prayer position.  The point is to get you to drop your heavy load and let God carry it.  His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light”  The goal is not to cripple us or beat us down to a state of utter despair and bitterness, but to the point where we can’t move without His help.  Isn’t that the point of faith?  When our load is way heavier than what we could ever pick up alone, it’s usually then that we cry out to God. 

No one cries out to God when the rent is a day late.  They cry out when they get that 3-day eviction notice.  God gets all the glory when he comes through for us and more people get to see His glory.  The bigger the miracle, the deeper the grace, the greater the triumph, the more hearts He wins over.

Mommy (part 2)

Read Part 1

Now that my mom is in her 50’s we get along better than we ever have.  She missed out on almost my entire teenage life but she’s a wonderful grandmother and mother now.  She carries a lot of guilt over not being present or responsible but I remind her how much I love her every chance I get. 

As a veteran, my mom suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and paranoid schizophrenia.  This makes it challenging to get along with her sometimes but it’s all about learning to see things as she sees them.  Drug use damages the brain but also stunts social and cognitive growth.  I’ve been around drug addicts all my life and they are very loving, caring people who are desperate to forget something, or to try to feel nothing about that something.  I’ve overheard conversations amongst my mom’s friends and I learned some very disturbing things at a very young age.  I heard stories of molestation, rape, violence, abandonment.  I learned that there is a lot of hurt in the world and a lot of people who are just doing the best they can to deal with that hurt. 

Mommy had tons of boyfriends.  None of them any good.  None had jobs.  All of them had drug addictions and alcoholism.  In and out they came like inmates.  Same ones came back several times sometimes.  We got used to it.  I hated them all and they hated me.  I did my best to make them uncomfortable so they wouldn’t stay long.  They ate all the food and hogged the TV.  There was some violence on rare occasions.  Mostly it was my mom knocking some guy’s teeth out or punching holes in doors.  Any man who tried to put his hands on my mom was in for a surprise ass-whooping.  I’ve never seen a man take my mom.  But the commotion scared me and my sisters so she finally put an end to letting boyfriends stay in the house.  No way!  Not in MY house!  Yes, it was MY house.  I was running things.  And that’s the way it was until my sisters and I moved to our grandparents’ house when I was 11.

Having said that, I squared off with my mom about her drug use on many, many occasions.  When I was 16 and a junior in high school I moved back in with her.  She had gotten a job and had been sober for awhile.  She was doing quite well.  The best I had ever seen.  But then she relapsed.  She kept the same old friends and they started coming around the house more and more.  Sure enough, she relapsed.  She would disappear for several days or a week and leave me (a child) to take care of my 2 younger sisters.  At least this time I was old enough to take care of myself.  But once upon a time I was 7 years old taking care of 2 hungry, screaming toddlers who missed their mommy.  When I got older I had a different feeling about her coming and going like she had not a care in the world.  When she came back home I would blow a gasket and she would sit and cry like an emotional teenager busted coming in after curfew.  I would find myself having to put people out of the house with the help of my trusty 6-inch butcher knife.  I sometimes woke up at wee hours of the morning to find strangers just kicking it in the living room while my mom was nowhere to be found.  My sisters would be highly upset with me because I would lock up the house and go back to bed.  Mommy was out there without her keys but I was not about to stay up and wait for her, nor was I going to leave the door unlocked.  I had school in the morning and I needed my sleep.  They didn’t understand why I had to lock her out.  They understand now.  This trial living situation lasted just a few months.  I ended up running away from home and back to Grammy’s.  My sisters refused to come.  Children and Family services ended up getting involved for the first time and my mom lost custody of us to Grammy.  For years she blamed “the system” for separating mothers from their children.  She wouldn’t even acknowledge what she had done to get us to this point.

There is something you need to understand about hard-core drug addicts.  They use drugs to self-medicate, escape pain, reality, feeling, etc.  Whenever life happens, they get high and avoid dealing with things. Unfortunately, these times in life are what make people mature.  Pain teaches us unforgettable lessons.  Loss strengthens our bones.  Sitting with these emotions and feelings causes us to undergo internal mental, emotional and spiritual changes that are necessary for growth.  Get high for about 30 years as life passes you by.  What do you get?  A 15-year old in a 50-year old’s body.  It’s like taking a child and dropping them off at a building somewhere and saying “It’s time to grow up.  You have a job, bills and a family now.  Your office is on the 3rd floor.  And good luck with that”. 

It truly is a miracle that I nor my sisters was ever raped by any of these people.  I was very protective of my sisters.  If they stayed home from school, so did I.  I didn’t trust my mom to take care of them.  I fed them, put them to bed, helped them with homework, and held them when they cried.  They cried a lot.  And it hurt my heart to see them cry.  They couldn’t understand what was going on with Mommy but they knew in their little hearts that things were not right.  Sometimes we would all sit together and talk about what kind of women we wanted to be.  Mothers with big, clean houses.  And husbands.  It was good to share our hopes and dreams.  I’m sad to say that one of my sisters is deep in addiction, just like my mom.  She has children and they are suffering just as we did.  Watching this happen to her grandchildren is extremely painful for my mom.  She has to watch her own daughter treat her kids the way she treated us.  She had no idea things were that bad.

Mommy (Part 1)

This main purpose of this blog is to share my family’s story in the hopes that other people can see how the myth of family curses keeps people in bondage.  But lately I have been stalling.  I’ve been posting other things here but that’s because writing about my mom is scary, to say the least.  This post is the hardest to write because I was there to experience much of this story.  It’s not a dictated account like the stories of my other mothers.  So, yeah- I procrastinated.  A lot.

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Mommy was a bad kid. She told me so.

She was always getting suspended for something.  She ran away from home, ditched school, set off firecrackers in class, talked back to her teachers, etc.  She started smoking when she was 8, finishing the butts that Grammy left in the ash tray.  She eventually moved on to marijuana and then cocaine.  She and my grandmother have never liked each other.  Sometimes they even act like they hate each other.  I still have to bear witness to my mom giving Grammy the stank eye when she’s not looking.  It’s pretty sickening at times but it is definitely the norm in my family. 

Mommy remembers when her dad left for the final time.  She remembers waiting for him by the door and wondering why he never came home.  Grammy never tried to explain anything to her.  Life just moved on without him.  Grammy struggled to take care of herself and 4 kids with no husband.  Back in the 60’s, being a single woman with kids was an atrocity.  People would look at you funny and draw up all kinds of glorious stories of prostitution and promiscuity.  A single mother was very much alone back then.

When Grammy remarried, my mom hated her stepfather’s guts at first.  Like most kids of divorce, she wished for her parents to kiss and make up.  So she hated her stepfather’s guts for a long time.  My mother says that all the kids were physically and mentally abused– all except my grandmother’s favorite daughter.  I’ve spoken to my aunt about this and of all the siblings she is the only one that denies any abuse and says that she remembers nothing like that happening during her childhood. 

My mom says she smoked her first cigarette at age 8 and her first marijuana joint at 12.  She spent more than 40 years after that living with a serious addiction to crack cocaine.  She joined the military before graduating high school.  There she was raped.  That was her first ever sexual encounter.  She met my father in the service and they married.  The marriage was abusive on both parts but somehow they got along well enough to conceive me.  They divorced when I was a baby.  I remember seeing my father just twice.

My mom went on to have two more girls with two different men.  This caused a huge problem because she clearly had favorites.  I remember sitting for hours listening to my mom talk about how much she hated my father and wished she had never married him.  Then she spoke of my sisters’ fathers as if they were summer romance flings.  I learned at a young age that I was unwanted.  Just like my grandmother and mother had learned when they were young girls.  Mommy never remarried but she always had different boyfriends.  Most of them were fellow drug addicts she could get high with.  She handed my sisters and I over to my grandparents when I was 11.  She said she was ready to go to rehab and change her life.  It was supposed to be a temporary situation, maybe a year or so.  She spent the next 7 years feeding her addiction while we lived with Grammy and Grandpa.  We would go weeks or even a month without hearing from her.  Then all of a sudden she would call from somewhere.  She never told me where she was when I asked her.

Mommy wasn’t there when I got my first period.  She wasn’t there when I lost my virginity.  She wasn’t there when my heart was broken for the first time.  She wasn’t there when I seriously considered committing suicide.  She was living on the streets and getting high.  It was almost like she had forgotten about us.