Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Peace”

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!

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

 

A Chance Encounter…A Truth Revealed

UnknownI was excited as I entered the bakery prepared to order the cake for my goddaughter’s baby shower.  It had been a busy day as I checked off my to do list so I welcomed a break to chat up the cake decorator whose daughter attends school with mine.  During our conversation, she asked whether my daughter would be returning to FB for 8th grade in light of all that was going on with the 7th graders.  Huh?  I had no idea what she was talking about as my stomach did a roller coaster drop.  “Oh yeah,” she continued – “there are girls who have been cutting themselves and some who are no longer eating who have to be supervised during lunch hour so they can eat.”  My look of surprise caused her voice to drop and she drew back slightly which caused me to lean in and press the issue.  “Names…give me names,” I said.  And sadly she gave me two names I instantly recognized as close friends of my daughter.  My mind wandered to the times recently that my daughter has skipped a meal or two or has moved the food on her plate around leaving it mostly untouched.  I then recalled the many times she has come home from school a little sad or quiet and now I’m not alarmed…I’m irritated!  I’m not irritated with my daughter, I’m bothered by the administration at the school who bombards my mailbox with emails trumpeting the many instances of scabies, lice and the like, but fail to give parents a heads up regarding behavior that our girls are exhibiting which could affect (if not addressed) those girls who are not involved directly, but are on the sidelines being infected.  Ugggghh!!!  “Lord, help me handle this one.”

As I drive home I sensed a peace that my daughter is not directly involved and I am once again in awe of the Holy Spirit who has been showing me how to pray for my daughter all along; who had arranged that meeting at the bakery because He knew that I must take steps now to protect my girl, to gain her trust, to place a little separation between her and her friends as they continue to heal.  I ask the Lord for help.  I ask for His wisdom and peace as I approach my child with this new found information and I ask Him to guard me from being irritated with her for not sharing what she knows if she knows.

Since my children were around 3 or 4, I’ve been talking to them about bad touch, good touch, stranger danger, good secrets, bad secrets, etc.  I’ve talked extensively as they’ve matured about friends and trust; we’ve discussed the importance of knowing when to bring an adult into confidence for a situation that may be too big for them to figure out.  Clearly, my daughter needs a refresher course, I’m thinking.

The minute she gets in the car, I just about forget how I’ve prayed.  I tell her I’ve heard some disturbing news and then I blurt out…”what do you know about the girls who are cutting themselves and not eating.”  I know….smooth, right?  Her eyes get wide and tear up and I continue my smooth execution by asking her if she’s involved.  My heart is thumping in my ears as she turns over her wrists and shows me and says “no, mom.”  I hear the Holy Spirit screaming for me to shut up and so I do.

We get home and she follows me into the kitchen and as I take a deep breath, I hug her and remind her that I love her, am on her side and there is nothing she can do that can change my love for her.  I tell her that she needs to trust me so that I could help her.  She’s crying now and once again assures me that she is in no way involved; that the girls involved have been in this tailspin since early this year when the school found out.  All of the girls are being counseled, their parents are aware and the reason she has kept that secret is because she was being loyal to her friends who were ashamed and asked her not to tell anyone.

She then proceeded to name each girl and it broke my heart to see her cry as she shared the names.  I wrote each name down and my heart broke as I recognized each name.  She hesitated and said there’s one more and this time she put her hands over her face as I held my breath.  It was her best friend.  Her tears slipped through her fingers and I felt her body relax as I held her.  I’m sure she felt my body relax also.  She was finally able to let go of that secret and I was able to exhale.  I promised not to treat her friends differently and at that point I was not about to lecture her about anything.  I just held her and reminded her what a loyal friend she was.  I told her I wished she would have shared with me so that she did not have to carry this burden alone.  My blessed girl said she has been praying for her friends and begging God to heal them; that she never had a desire to hurt herself because she has no emotional issues and she also knows that her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  (I almost cried when I heard her say that.)  I took her hand in mine and we placed them over the names I had written down and I prayed for each girl by name.  As she dried her tears, she assured me that everyone was doing better.  She knew a lot about both disorders…no doubt had Googled about them, since she used some technical terms.  The times she had no appetite or was sad coming from school were times that her friends were struggling either at home or at the hand of their peers who were judging them.  I believe her.

I’m proud of my girl for standing up for and with her friends; for being loyal to them; for praying for them and acting as counselor; for not caring that she too was being judged by the “theys.”  It blesses me when I recall how over the top she celebrated her best friend for her birthday..how she emptied her piggy bank and dipped into my wallet in order to make her friend’s birthday special because she wanted to see her smile…she loves her smile!

My girl and I have spent the last week snuggled up, having tea and talks and many laughs.  She has told me on more than one occasion that she loves and trusts me and feels closer to me since she’s told me.  I’m grateful!

Once again, this piece points to the importance of the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives.  He is our teacher, our guide, our comforter, our revealer, our wisdom, our peace.  I’m praying today for our youth…our daughters.  I pray a hedge of protection around them and pray that no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that they would be delivered from the hand of the enemy and set on a course which would be pleasing to the Lord; I pray that their appetites would be for that which honors God and that they would respect themselves and each other.  I pray that they would get a revelation of how much the Lord loves them; how they are fearfully and wonderfully made; how great their purpose is; how there is hope and peace in their future; I pray for their parents..for peace in their households; and a greater knowledge of and relationship with the Lord and their children….in Jesus’ name.  Amen and so be it!

God…Where Were You?

christian-in-Gods-handI, like countless people spent a pretty blue weekend.  Yet I, like the majority of those  who watched the horrific events as they unfolded was able to turn off the television set and for a few hours busy myself with errands and family matters.  Not so for those not only affected by the recent tragedy in Connecticut, but those who have been impacted by past tragedies (memories once again stirred, pain revisited)…Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and many other senseless shootings that pepper our newscasts causing us to catch our breaths once again, hug our babies once again and sadly call out to God, in some cases, only once….again.

It really angers me to hear the same people who only call out to God in order to “damn” Him now blame Him, question Him, ridicule those who still believe in Him.  The same ones who disallow Him, exclude Him, want Him out of our schools, off of our money, separated from our governmental affairs are now wondering where He was.

I have a very good idea of His whereabouts…as seen in the actions of those in and near that school.  He was in the courage displayed by the principal to stare down the shooter and shout a warning to her teachers both verbally and in her wisdom to keep the intercom open giving her teachers time to protect their children; He was in  the courage displayed by those teachers who gave their lives to protect their children; who did not allow fear to paralyze them into nonaction, but were able to protect and distract their children; who were able to usher their children to safety; He was in the school secretary who set aside her fear in order to make the 911 call (that act alone saved hundreds of lives); He was in the first responders who like the heroes they are, ran into the building while others ran out; and He remains to comfort and console those whose lives are left shattered by this evil.

No one will ever be able to offer a satisfactory response as to why God would allow such an act .  I certainly could provide a scriptural response, but would it bring peace to those whose peace has been fractured?  Maybe in time…but the question would remain….why their baby?  Would it bring understanding to those who don’t believe?  How can you explain the unexplainable, make sense of the senseless, conceive of the inconceivable?  How can you console the inconsolable?  There are no words…not mine anyway!

I do know this….the enemy aimed straight at our hearts with this one.  It was only 13 years ago that Columbine was in the news…when the unimaginable stopped the nation in its tracks as we became voyeurs to that tragedy and it seems that the enemy took his “game” up a notch when evil struck at Virginia Tech and if that wasn’t horrific enough (that event garnering the title of the deadliest school shooting in our nation’s history), the enemy, lest we think it can’t get any worse, pays a visit to the most innocent of them all.

I hate that this past weekend I had to have a conversation with my kids about steps to take in the event of a public emergency; I hate that this world has become so dark; I hate that for months we will be discussing gun control and mental illness as if any human will be able to put a plug in the many holes that have been drilled into the fabric of this society.  I hate to say that I hate that God will once again be shelved after the media goes on to the next big calamity and the churches empty once again.

I hate that there are 20 families left having to explain the effects of evil to their surviving children; I hate that there may be families whose only child was stolen from them; I hate that it took 11 minutes for hundreds of children to have their innocence stripped away. I hate that there are 27 families (including that of the shooter) who are mourning during this Christmas season. I hate that there are families who are once again reliving their own personal nightmare.

This morning I did what I do every morning.  I woke my babies up, combed my daughter’s hair, got breakfast and did the most important thing I believe I could do for them….I laid my hands on each of them and prayed that the angel of the Lord would protect them, go before them; I prayed that the wisdom from above which is pure and peaceable would be in them and that no weapon formed against them would prosper.

I hate that 20 moms won’t be able to do the same today, but instead will be making plans to bury their babies.

I’m praying for God’s peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding…that it would guard our hearts and minds; that it would guard the hearts and minds of those affected by this tragedy and of those who have been on the mend….that they maintain their peace; that we would rise up as a nation and release the word of God over our government, our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods; that we not allow fear to disable us; I pray a hedge of protection around our children and loved ones.  I’m praying that the God of comfort would show Himself strong in the lives of those who are hurting; I’m praying for healing.  God, heal our land.

It’s Gonna Be All Right

Where can I go where Your love can’t find me

Where can I run where You aren’t there waiting for me

How can I hide when You’re drawing me close

Calling me to come higher…leaning in as I whisper my hurts, my fears, my needs to You

Holding me tighter, patting my back, rocking me back and forth

I know, I know….Shhhh…don’t cry, I’m here…It’s gonna be all right…I’m here

My comforter – My healer – My peace in a storm

Never lost for long…always found by You

Before long, I believe that it’s gonna be all right

…and so it is because You said so

The Hardest Thing in the World…

If I’m being real…

honest, I’d have to say that the hardest thing in the world to do is love someone who does not love you.  That someone who taunts you, flings barbs at you, corrects you…that someone who finger points, finger wags; who just doesn’t like you for reasons only known by them; that person who ASSumes things about you without ever really knowing you; who challenges everything you say, everything you do…whew, I’m having flashbacks.  Jesus take the wheel!!!

LOVE…that sometimes elusive thing that everyone wants to have; that emotion that we can’t live without, one so easy to fall into, so easy to do until it’s not reciprocated.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” Luke 6:32-33

I was met with a challenge to love that person described in paragraph one above:)  After each encounter, two thoughts would occur to me and I’d wrestle with the first one…”How lovely would my hands feel around her neck,” quickly (not so quickly sometimes if I’m being real…honest) — followed by the more sane thought…Arlene, you can either PASS or FAIL.  Well seeing that I’m writing this from my kitchen and not from a jail cell, you know I passed, but time after time I’d question why after having passed the test, I would walk away with my jaw clenched and fists balled up never really feeling like a winner.  This went on longer than anyone should really deal with before snapping and that last time as I walked away, I asked for Divine intervention DUH!!! due to the ever increasing sense that the old man..(you know, the one that was supposed to be dead) was going to make an appearance…I heard him scratching at the coffin and it was getting louder and louder.

When I grew quiet enough to hear Him answer, it was ME being checked.  Huh?  I was being shown that  some of the very things that irritated me about her were big in me.  Ruh ro!!  Now that He had my attention, He began to show me the areas that needed smoothing in me that I saw in her that irritated me.  I felt she was critical, judgmental, bossy, prideful, all knowing, never listening, unteachable…OH GOD!!!…the list goes on.  Once I got up from the floor, I simply said.  “Lord, change me..set a guard over my mouth and cause me to see her through Your eyes; to hear her…really hear her and not react.  Lord, I want to love her the way You love her.  And Lord, if that dead man is really dead, I shouldn’t be reacting…change me.”  Before too long, things began to change and the beauty of it all was that I never set out to try to change.  I think she may have changed, or was it me that just didn’t notice any more because the Lord had begun a work in me.  There was peace between us…“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 – In the end, I rather liked her…she was strong, take charge, successful in business, loving towards her family, generous and she loved the Lord.

So I passed the test and learned a few things…I learned that sometimes the Lord resurrects a mirror before us and the reflection is not too cute, but with a little heart adjustment transformation begins. I learned that we shouldn’t run away from obstacles…growth occurs when you’re stretched.  I learned that I cannot control others’ actions, but I can control my reaction; I learned that humility takes you  a long way.  I learned that the old man is sometimes never dead…just sleeping..hehehe; I learned that love is hard sometimes….but it never fails!

L.O.V.E….Love…heavily pursued and thought of, falling in and out of…flung about and sung about…

L.O.V.E. — What’s love got to do with it?  Everything, Tina!

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