Armoured Up

A Hard Conversation

I’m not much of a news watcher, unlike my honey who actually records the World News.  I figure the powers that be pick and choose what they wish to report and it’s usually not good.  Shamefully, I get most of the happenings from Facebook news articles, in between the breakups, pregnancies, baby pics and jokes.   I refrain from watching the news before I go to sleep because I like to drift off on a good note; however, such was not the case last night.  I have yet to turn on the news to hear what’s going on in Ferguson, but you would have to live under a rock not to have heard the happenings there.

I scanned the feeds last night and between all of the ice bucket challenges and laughter I was stopped cold by the image of Michael Brown dead in the middle of the street with what looked like blood pouring from his head.  I read the article and just cried.  Cried for his mom, especially and what it must feel like to see your child in that condition.  I knew a conversation would have to be had in our household…one I sincerely dreaded.

I grew up in Gary, Indiana and our family was the first non-white family to color Polk Street and while I was too young to remember, I recall stories told of my parents being judged by the color of their skin; however, I have never experienced overt racism, unless you count the time that Judy tried to whack me from behind with a two by four because of my “good hair.”  Ironically, we were the last non-blacks to leave our neighborhood in Gary and it was by force.  We were no longer welcomed so I guess you can say my folks/our family experienced racism coming and going and on we moved to Hammond where, again, we were the first non-white family to color the neighborhood.

My folks didn’t focus on skin color, although they were a bit concerned about the opinion of others where race mingling was concerned, so imagine the drama that ensued when “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” became a reality for them when my husband (then boyfriend) pulled up to meet them for the first time.  They survived the introduction and grew to love my husband so all was well in my world…and then came Joshua.

To this day my husband and I have not experienced racism as an interracial couple; however, I clearly recall after giving birth to our son, I had a “knowing in my spirit” is the best way I could describe it, that I needed to be fully aware that I was raising a black man.  I shelved the thought in the hopes that this world would support the existence of our bi-racial son.  I don’t feel that as much these days as I witness the continued unraveling of this world that we live in.

I sort of began the discussion when Josh was around 4 or 5 by building his character, reminding him who he was in Christ; praying scripture over him…that he would obey them that rule over him; submit to authority; use wisdom.  I instructed him on the importance of words like “no,” and “stop.”  I was (and still am) intolerant when it came to bad attitudes, willful disobedience, disrespect.  I nipped all foolishness in the bud in a hurry because I was well aware that once he left my care, folks on the outside would not tolerate his poor behavior and mommy wouldn’t be there to act as “clean up woman.”  Can I say that this is enough for him to get by in the climate of today?  Probably not, because he is still a black man.  But it is a start.

This morning I asked him if he had heard about Michael Brown and he said no.  My boy who lives in the suburbs, who attends private school, who is boisterous and free with his friends and unaware of color, may just be in a bubble that I took a stab at this morning.  I explained the situation and broke it down to him and it broke my heart.  His eyes grew wide and then pensive and then I began to rub salve on the wound by telling him not to lose his confidence, but use wisdom; not to lose respect, but use honor; not to fear, but to respect….and the conversation will continue.

Today I am praying for those who have been affected by this tragedy, including the officer and his family.  I’m praying for heart changes, for peace, for healing and reconciliation, for restoration and trust.  I’m praying for parents to step up and instruct their children, parent their children…not allow the streets, the schools, the churches to parent their children.  I’m praying for protection for our children as they navigate this “new world” that we live in.  Lord Jesus, come!

Still…

I turned over this morning, opened my eyes and there he was staring at me with the sweetest of smiles…a smile I have woken up to for 28 years. “Happy Anniversary honey…do you wanna go this morning.” I thought about sleeping in on this glorious Saturday morning, but instead my feet hit the floor and in minutes we were out the door headed to the mountain for our daily walk, run, prayer, hike. This is new for us since I’m an avid exercise spectator. There is nothing cute about hopping, grunting, sweating in public, but I’ll do it on the mountain with my honey, coz he asked me to and because there are no witnesses…no one I know, anyway.

This morning I fell behind and listened as he prayed. My heart felt a tug as he prayed for me and us and ours. I listened as he thanked the Lord for his wife, I was grateful as he washed me with the water of the Word, I was touched to hear how much he loves, honors and respects me…still.

I had to step it up to catch up to him so that I could pray for him. He held my hand as I covered him in prayer and from time to time I felt him squeeze my hand in agreement and appreciation.  We covered our wedding party in prayer and then focused on the marriages of those we know and then we reminisced on our time together and thanked the Lord some more.

As we climbed steep hills and cautiously made our way down, he much more gracefully than I — OY!!! —  as we jogged around bends, kicked up dust and navigated around rocks, uneven pavement and land mines which litter the path, compliments of “Mr. Ed,” I likened the path to our marriage. There have been mountains to climb that have been tiring and there have been times where we’ve slipped and skidded our way down, at times expecting great injury,  but landing safely anyway. There have been times where we have grown weary…weary from navigating those rough terrains, tired of the journey…tired of the uneven paths, the roads to nowhere, the dirt we’ve encountered, the dirt we’ve slung, the cr*p we’ve stepped in and still…

Here we are, 28 years later still taking those mountains, still slipping and sliding, still side stepping treacherous paths, still dusting the dirt from our shoes…still doing life together.  Loving one another…still.

Today I am grateful….grateful that the Lord knew that I would need a strong, silent, PATIENT, kind, diligent, loving man.  Grateful that we were wise enough to figure out that we could never climb any mountain or navigate any path without God being a partner in our partnership; grateful that God so loved me, that He chose that man for me and grateful that that man is in love with me…still!

Happy Anniversary honey. Here’s to us.
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Just When You Think They’re Not Listening…

Day one of my daughter’s high school religion class made for plenty of conversation around the dinner table yesterday. She was a little too concerned about religion class…well actually, she’s been concerned about geometry, lit, history, spanish and geography, but strangely enough she is so prepared for drama (imagine MY daughter dramatic?) She can’t wait for lunch and nutrition break and she’d be running with the cross country team at 6:00 a.m. except that her hair would be a “hot mess” afterwards. “This is the first week of school, mom!!” That’s my girl!!

Anyway, she really did have what she considers to be a legitimate concern regarding religion. She is attending a Catholic “College Prep” high school and as such, this school is super big on open communication, independent thinking, choices, responsibility and such, which is a beautiful thing and I have seen our son flourish in this setting in the last two years.

Yesterday during religion class kids spoke up about their beliefs and some were bold about the fact that they do not believe or weren’t sure what they believed, while there was the one who said he was searching. My daughter said it was strange to sit in a class room where there wasn’t unity in that area and she was grieved. “Oh boy,” I said…”welcome to the real world. Now that is a foretaste of college, for real!” They have been given an assignment to present a song, a poem, or story which would be “meditative” in nature and to end their presentation with a prayer. She said she was excited to share whatever the Lord puts on her heart. She asked me to pray for her.

When it was my turn to encourage my girl, I told her that it’s okay to question…how else would you find answers. It’s ok to be grieved, but not okay to judge where others are in their process. I shared with my girl that the good news is that she was tweaked by the conversation and the great news is that she is looking forward to her turn at bat and is praying about how best to present her beliefs.

Today as I recalled this conversation I prayed for my children, as they are closer and closer to being launched out into the world. I made a mental note to start discussing with them what they believe and why. I recalled that since they were too young to understand, I had been praying that they would not be tossed and turned by the philosophies of man or man’s doctrines, but that they would be rooted and grounded in God’s word. I recalled that I have prayed that they would eschew evil and do good; that they would be led by the spirit of God and not by their emotions or flesh; that the angel of the Lord would be encamped around them; that God loved them and had an extraordinary plan for their future; that they would know Him and be known by Him; they would love Him and serve Him.

I can’t help but feel a bit panicked at the thought of them leaving the nest. God, have I prepared them enough? Am I prepared enough to let them go? Will they remember lessons learned? Will they serve You? Will they make choices that line up with Your will, plan and purpose for them?

And then I am quieted, knowing that they are His children on loan to me and those areas that I could have been stronger in will be filled in by Him. I am at peace knowing that just when I thought they were not listening, they were and are. Thank You Jesus!

Let Me Love Without Brakes With No Breaks

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message

I came across this scripture this morning.  I giggled at the first half and then quickly sobered up and leaned in to grasp the admonishment contained in the last sentence.  As I did, I thought of my husband and kids…those closest to me.  The ones who get to see all of me, the real me…the ones who get the full monty…the good, the bad and yes, the ugly me.  I got so checked…and then I became so grateful.

Grateful that God so loves me that He checks, then redirects me.  It’s so easy to step out of our houses and enter the world wearing our “faith” face, our “everything is peachy in my world” face, our “I love everyone” face and then return home tired and dusty, remove the mask and take for granted the very blessings God has given us.  The family hand picked by the Master.

Lately I’ve noticed how rapidly my children have grown, how in a blink they have matured and how I am “seconds” away, it seems, to being an empty nester.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!!!????

I have questioned myself, doubted myself and cried out to God asking Him to slow down the process….let me squeeze every minute that I have left with my babies; let me have a few do-overs. Let them remember all the good and forget all those forgettable moments.  The ones reserved only for the ones I “love!!!”  :/

Let me not be so busy and overwhelmed that I miss connecting with my husband.

Let me not sweat the small stuff…those things that look large at the time, but with time fade to nothingness.  Let me love them deeply, lavishly, unashamedly.  Let me focus on each of them individually and not focus on what is wrong, but on everything that is so right.

Let me live generously and graciously toward them, Lord, the way you live toward me.  Let me be slow in anger and quick in forgiveness; let my words be uplifting, encouraging, healing; let me show them mercy and kindness; let my love not be conditional…let me love without brakes and with no breaks.

Just the way You love me.

Being a Mom is Tough

shoppingBeing a Mom is Tough!!!  Ha!!  Ain’t that the truth!!!  I am doing an online bible study and each week a topic is featured and an invitation extended for bloggers to blog and so here I am throwing my hat in, not so much to enlighten anyone — since we all know how tough, trying, treacherous, taxing, traumatizing parenting can be, (I’m pretty dramatic, I know) —  but I need some enlightening up in here!

I am mama to my only begotten son, Joshua, 15 (almost 16) and my girl Mariah, 14.  I have always anticipated each stage of development, bought the book and waited as they caught up to me.  I helicoptered  my way through the early years and had a few “special” moments along the way, but all in all nothing too traumatizing, I hope.

And so here we are smack dab in the middle of teenage years and OY!!!  I thought I was pretty well prepared and prayed up since my only begotten son has been a joy to parent…well, you know, he’s just like me (insert smirk and a back pat here) — but the problem I’m having is that my girl, bless her precious heart, is a little more of a challenge because…well, you know, she’s just like me (pre-Jesus) — help me Jesus!!  She’s a little more argumentative (she calls it debating); a little more headstrong (she says she’s an independent thinker) and a bit stubborn (um…me)!!  She took that turn in 6th grade and we’ve been riding this wave ever since — having some good days and some not so good days.

I recently shared with my goddaughter’s mom that in the process of parenting her daughter, she will be healed of some of her struggles.  This week the Lord, brought that conversation back to my remembrance and I embraced it.  I recognize that to be the case in my relationship with my daughter because the hotter it becomes, the more “my stuff” comes up and I am trying with every bit of my strength not to project.  Did I say OY!!!  After our last misunderstanding blow-up I heard myself say “I cannot wait for this ‘season’ to pass…I’d like to fast forward right through it.”  I immediately took it back because I realize that if I were to get my “wish” I would fast forward through some amazing times of growth and training with my girl and my only begotten son:)

So here’s what I will do instead….not in my strength, but in His:

I will not project “my stuff” on her as she “heals” me;

I will control less and trust Him more;

I will be quick to listen, slow to speak (a miracle in itself);

I will be open and expect to be stretched (some more)…(did she not absolutely stretch me to my limit during pregnancy?)

I will not take anything she says personally (Jesus take the wheel for real!!)

I will acknowledge that bad moments do not make a bad mom or a bad relationship!

I will remind myself that God chose me to parent my girl!

I am so looking forward to this bible study and all that I will glean from the other warrior mamas.  May we all be strengthened, empowered and encouraged knowing that we were called for such a time as this to influence a generation and may our legacy be a lasting one…one that bears fruit that remains.

“He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness (uprightness and right standing with Him – not for my earning it, but) for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

Peace, Perfect Peace

peaceIt must be maturity…yeah, that’s what it is! The willingness to lay down your sword, give up your right to be heard…for your side to be known.

Deliverance….what a beautiful thing and you don’t fully realize its power until you are resting in it, feet firmly planted in it, soul at ease and free.

Being raised in a full house and being one of the youngest, I clamored for attention, fought for my right to be heard, was overdramatic and was super hurt when I was misunderstood. I carried that behavior with me through the years and was stung quite a bit as I was forced to take tests over and over (those stinky life tests, I mean). Ever wonder why you have to take tests over and over? It took me a minute to figure out that once I passed them, they passed, with the exception of an occasional refresher course followed by a quiz or two…or three!

My mind wandered this morning to the friend that got away.  Thank God for “friends” that get away…go away, move away, force a “walk-away.”  As I recalled the “situation” I marveled at how curiosity never got the best of me to reopen doors that should remain closed; I was astonished that I never felt the need to “tell my side” to those with whom my “friend” no doubt excoriated me.

Here’s the thing and it’s a big thing that I have pounded into my kiddies. Your reputation is all you have and it should be protected to the point that when other people hear stories and you are a principal character,  those who hear should know you well enough to know there must be more to the story. Those who hear and lean in and shake their heads and form opinions…well, they just don’t know you. There is no value in expending precious time and energy setting records straight when He who knows you best can set the record straight if He chooses to do so.

How am I benefitting? Peace, perfect peace – for some friends give, then take, then give some more, while others just take, then take, then take some more.

And so today I pray for those who are still learning lessons, being hurt and seeking peace.  That you would allow Him who loves you most, knows you best and has great plans for you, to heal, protect, sustain and strengthen you without you having to say a word.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind, both its inclination and its character, is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock the Rock of Ages.” Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP

 

This Dude is on Fire!

From the next room I heard the ding of a text message as I was getting ready for church.  I made my way over thinking my daughter was IMG_7909 messaging me and instead received a message that blessed and encouraged me, brought tears and then did the same for my husband when I shared it with him.

It was a video of my brother at church, praying over the tithes and offering.  My brother, who just a few short years ago was running from God; my shy brother who would never have gotten up in front of a crowd..ever!!  That brother, my favorite one, who had distanced himself from me…time, distance and circumstances driving a wedge in our relationship.  That brother whom I had prayed for was now boldly praying in a public setting.

Really, God??!!  You are amazing.

As I watched and listened to my brother, I did so in awe at how much God had gotten a hold of him and transformed him; how much God loved him.  It encouraged me to continue praying for my other brothers and my nephews and nieces in the same way I had prayed for my on fire for the Lord brother.

Let me encourage those of you who are standing in the gap for your loved ones.  Do not grow weary when they reject you, misunderstand you, distance themselves from you.  Do not stop praying…do not stop believing.

God is faithful to His word!

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9

One Day is Today!

I heard a growl and a great commotion coming from my backyard this morning.  Thinking that there was an intruder back there, I ran to the door, imageonly to witness Mocha, my 50 pound Lab being cornered and bullied by Daisy, my Maltese.  I stood for several minutes watching as Mocha ran away, hid and cowered behind trees,  taking a few tentative steps, only to be pushed back as Daisy, all six pounds of her, charged towards her target.

It’s so obvious to everyone except for Mocha that she, with one swipe or a wag of her thick tail, can knock Daisy senseless….and still Mocha runs, hides and tip toes around her.  Daisy is running it!

And that, friends, is a picture of the believer who does not know the power of God in them.  Always running, hiding and cowering as the enemy lashes out and backs them in a corner, pounding away.

One day, Mocha will realize how strong she is, she’ll mature and won’t be so fearful.  She will exercise that power and the tables will at last be turned.

Is today that day for you?  Make today your “one day.”

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11

I’m Overwhelmed

images“I’M OVERWHELMED!!!!”  That was my mantra all summer.  You see, my husband had this grand idea earlier this year and the idea was birthed in April and delivered to our home in June.  Mocha, a busy, hungry, nippy, rowdy, disobedient chocolate lab puppy was added to the Britt mix and she was cute…

for two weeks…

and I soon found out that everyone’s promises to pitch in, to clean after, to feed, to play with, our newest family member was….um, not so true! So this family plan became my project and I soon became overwhelmed!!!

Fourth of July came and there were fireworks, but not the beautiful kind! I was hot and popping off all right.

By August, I was fit to be tied and by then it was clear that my next ministry would be a prison ministry if I didn’t get away.  I was overwhelmed and everyone, including the dogs felt it.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to use a friend’s buddy pass to go to Chicago to see my mom.  I could not wait to get out of dodge that morning in August.  I just about jumped out of the car as it was still rolling in order to get into the airport. I  thought it strange that the airport was so crowded that early and my worst fears were realized when I couldn’t get on the 6:00 a.m. flight…or the 6:30…or the 7…or the 8…or 9…the 10…the 11…the 12 or the 1.  (DON’T EVER USE A BUDDY PASS DURING THE SUMMER!!)

I met some amazing people there while I waited, like the Christian public school teacher with the wayward daughter with Asperger Syndrome and the son who had turned his life around, had joined the military and was coming home before being shipped off to Afghanistan – (I know she must have felt overwhelmed); and the off-duty flight attendant who explained why the airline workers were so angry all the time…no raises in 17 years (that can be overwhelming!!).  She was desperate to get on a flight to Chicago to see her mom, knowing that the chances were great that her mom wouldn’t remember her anymore (how overwhelmed must she have been); and the mom who had followed me to each gate after she wasn’t able to get on with her two small boys.

I found myself applauding for each person as they made their way onto a flight that I couldn’t get on.

As I limped away back home I realized that each woman I spoke to that day had much more to be overwhelmed about than I did.

My amazing husband surprised me the following day with a paid ticket to Chicago where I spent a glorious week loving on my mom and being catered to and coddled by my two greatest cheerleaders…my sisters.   The day before I returned to Los Angeles, my sister introduced me to some new music.  The title of one of the tracks caught my attention and I was about to gain a whole new perspective on the words “I’m Overwhelmed.”

…God is amazing.

Yes, indeed…I returned from my trip with a new perspective on what being overwhelmed really looks like.

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Authority >Power

14_power-authorityWhich is greater…Authority or Power? A question I posed to my son this morning as he was sharing regarding the devotion he read last night. As we talked about the scripture which speaks about us doing greater works than Him, I showed my son Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” What came from my lips next was a gift. My son caught it and repeated it back to me so that I could write it down…”The enemy may have power, but you have been given the authority over his power. If you use your authority, then the enemy’s power cannot be used against you successfully!” I have given you authority…and nothing…(no thing, condition, circumstance, person) shall by any means hurt you!!

I thought of the soldier, strong and packing, fully capable of taking out his commander, but fully submitted and yielded to him, because of the authority which the commander stands in, or the officer directing traffic, his uniform causing traffic to obey him.

I’m encouraged today, knowing who I am and to Whom I belong. I’m standing in my authority, releasing His word and ducking every fiery dart the enemy may shoot my way. I’m not denying the power of the enemy…I’m simply resisting him and reminding him that I have been given authority over ALL of his power. Now shoo!

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