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Happy Birthday To Me

My birthday was November 24th. It seems, these days, that birthdays are on speed dial, that just as soon as the last candle is blown out on the birthday whatever, the earth double times its 365 and as I’m adjusting to that new age, it’s time to say “Hello” to a new number.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there are more years behind me than there are in front of me and, yes, I do have a few “I wish I had” thoughts as I travel down memory lane. But, this has been an intentional year of courage for me, a year to say “Yes” to the adventure of walking into the unknown for discovery, revelation and life lesson. I never imagined that freedom could be a by-product of daring to take the next step without an outline, agenda or commentary (figuratively speaking, of course) but that’s exactly what I’ve experienced.

In years past, I would have said “No” to new relationships, travels to new places, stretching a talent or embracing a new skillset. This year, I’ve stretched and reached for the stars just out of of my grasp. I’ve taken the next step even when I did not know where it might lead. I’m learning to quash those negative voices that demand I return to the safe and comfortable. This year I might even begin to share my age (don’t press me, though).

Here’s the point I’m trying to make. You will never discover who you are until you dare to step into who you think you aren’t! I know, it doesn’t make sense but it really does. I defined myself by who I thought I wasn’t rather than embracing who I might become. I am still God’s blank canvas, His painting of the me He designed me to be is not yet completed. I can’t wait to see what the next stroke of His gracious brush brings about in this chapter of my life.

I began this piece last week, seated at a table in a Louisiana Library that was swathed in southern accents as two dueling gray haired librarians debated the merits of this, that and the other.

It was quiet. It was southern. It was heaven!

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Posing outside of Southern University, Baton Rouge

 

 

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GENIUS!

I originally posted this as a comment in a Facebook thread about people throwing shade. I want to share it with those of you who have had shade thrown at you, been ignored or overlooked, or just downright kicked to the curb.

This one’s for you:

“Genius attracts detractors like a magnet. Genius reminds people of their lesser strengths and insecurity pushes them to act out in arrogance aka shade. The sad part is when they are eventually shaded by the person they so admire (and it will happen), they will be crushed but unfortunately they will not see it as a reflection of their own behavior.

Genius does not have to announce its greatness, it just shows up. The arrogant work hard to prove they are great because otherwise, in the face of Genius, who would know or even notice them?

Genius does what it does without attitude or self-constructed hoopla because, well, it’s Genius. Those who throw shade can only do so because they are standing in the light of Genius. There can be no shade if there is no light.

Keep moving forward, Genius. There will be more shade as your light grows brighter but just remember, their shade can never diminish your light.

Genius’ “weakness” is that they almost never see themselves as Genius because they just do what they do, but others see it and covet it to the extent that they seek to diminish it.

Bottom line: Do You, Genius, and stop giving free press to the carriers of shade. They do not deserve your acknowledgement nor benefit of your light!!”

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#donnanotdiva #awomansplace

Not Again!

Earlier this year (2017), on a Sunday morning, I drove to Church, bounced out of my car and before I walked into the building, I looked down at my feet. To my chagrin, I had on mismatched flats. Both pairs were black but each had a different embellishment so I knew the difference would be noticeable to the inquiring eye.

I dashed back to the car, fervently praying that I had left a pair of matching flats in the trunk! No such luck. The only pair of shoes in the trunk were a pair of my daughter’s stilettos.

Now I love a pair of stilettos. I have written about my womanish stilettos. But, it had been over two years since I’d worn heels (hip and knee issues eventually replaced), so I shuddered at the thought of putting on those shoes. But, in my mind, I had no option, so I teetered my way into the sanctuary.

Everyone expressed surprise that I was not only in heels but in those heels! As I contemplated twenty minutes of standing in those heels, I blurted out my truth, “I wore mismatched flats to church this morning and these were the only shoes in the car!”

After the laughter died down, one young woman said, “I might have some flats you can wear.”

Those flats turned out to be slides topped with fuzzy stuff. At this point, I did not care what anyone might think. At least my feet would be flat on the ground. Fuzzy slides it would be!

Since the day of that mismatch mishap, I make sure my flats match before I walk out the door.

Let us now rewind to this past Sunday.

I again was a part of the Praise/Worship team. I pulled out my flats and intentionally made sure I had matching shoes. When I arrived at the church, I stepped out of the car and looked down at my feet.

Yep, you guessed it! Mismatched. Again. What. The. Hades!

I walked into the church and the first person I encountered, I pointed to my shoes and said, “Yes, I did it again.”

Same mismatched flats! Yes, we all laughed. Again.

I did my best not to care. Didn’t work. I felt like those shoes were screaming, “Hey, look at us! We don’t match!”

When sound check was done, I rushed out of the building to the car to search through the car trunk.

One stiletto that belonged to my daughter, no mate. One black flat, no mate. One black patent leather medium heel, wearable, no mate. One black kitten heel, no mate.

I am not frantic. I am determined. I open a car door to the back seat and I search under the seats. I seem to recall the mates to those wearable heels under the car seats.

Nothing, no mates, no flats, no thing! When did I clean out the car?

I go back to the trunk and begin to tear it apart even more (thank goodness, I don’t have much in my trunk).

After much tossing of stuff aside, I find the mate to the medium heel (at least I hope it”s the mate but at this point I do not care).

Wait. I have not worn heels for Praise/Worship for almost three years. What if I trip! What if I stumble! What if I topple over?

No such incidents, I’m happy to report. I also now realize that I can wear heels on those Sundays I am on the team. However, I am in the comfort-first stage of life, so flats it will continue to be (with an extra pair always in the trunk, just in case).

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I Spy With My Little Eye

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From Alice Walker essay, “Beauty When The Other Dancer Is Self”

“I am twenty-seven, and my baby daughter is almost three. Since the birth I have worried about her discovery that her mother’s eyes are different from other people’s. Will she be embarrassed? I think. What will she say? Every day she watches a television program called Big Blue Marble. It begins with a picture of the earth as it appears from the moon. It is bluish, a little battered-looking, but full of light, with whitish clouds swirling around it. Every time I see it I weep with love, as if it is a picture of Grandma’s house. One day when I am putting Rebecca down for her nap, she suddenly focuses on my eye. Something inside me cringes, gets ready to try to protect myself. All children are cruel about physical differences, I know from experience, and that they don’t always mean to be is another matter. I assume Rebecca will be the same.

But no-o-o-o. She studies my face intently as we stand, her inside and me outside her crib. She even holds my face maternally between her dimpled little hands. Then, looking every bit as serious and lawyer-like as her father, she says, as if it may just possibly have slipped my attention: Mommy, there’s a world in your eye.” (As in, “Don’t be alarmed, or do anything crazy.”) And then, gently, but with great interest: ‘Mommy, where did you get that world in your eye?'”

When my grandchildren look into my eyes, what do they see? Do they see a world full of hope and brilliant expectation or is it a world filled with rancor, acrid bitterness and yesterday’s dark regrets?

When my grandchildren look into my eyes, what do they see?

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Like Fine Wine

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
                                                from “Rabbi Ben Ezra” by Robert Browning

Listen Up!

I am grateful for every day the good Lord has allowed me to live. But, I’m not the one who broadcasts my age. This is not vanity on my part. This is wisdom. I know that as soon as I become the Seasoned Sister, the Mature Maven, the Perfectly Aged Matron, the Dowager Deaconess, there will be those who will then want to put me in that box they have created for “the old folk,” and at some point I may begin to accept it as my destiny (rocking chairs, front porches and sweet tea sipped through slipping dentures). Sure, I now call everyone “Dear” and “Sweetie,” but that’s because I am kind and compassionate. Not because I am old(er)! 

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“No, no, no,”

I do not understand why as soon as a person hits a certain age, people begin to act as though they have hit some “use by” date and therefore should be discarded..

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News Flash, y’all. Until the good Lord says, “Sit down, Donna,” the purpose is still in place and as long as I can, I will continue to stand for Him.

It is true. I no longer have the energy I once had, and some things demand just too much of what little I do have, but as long as I can, I will. Yes, there are some things from which I will have to step away from, eventually. But until then, I’m will continue to stay the course. Besides, age is all about mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

At least that’s what I’ve heard!

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Besides, I still look good!

Old people were young people before young people were people! ~Tom Wyatt

I CRIED TODAY!

 

Today is “National Widows Day”

And

I cried today

But

I did not cry because I am a widow

Even though I am a widow

But

I did not cry today

Because he is no longer present

I cried today

Because some people took the time to say,

“You are not forgotten”

I did not know that tender place existed

Until

“You are not forgotten”

It is so easy for widows to be lost in the fog of grief

I do not mean a widow loses her way because of her grief

Though this is possible

The journey on the path of the new normal can be quite circuitous

Fraught with fear of the unknown

Strengths to be discovered

Obstacles to overcome

Courage to be cultivated

But this is not what I mean

When I say a widow is often shrouded in the fog of grief

I mean too often others lose sight of her because of her grief

Unable to relate to the loss

Or her struggle in the loss

They lose sight of her because of her grief

Familiar voices no longer call out to her

Familiar faces fade away

Memories are sometimes her only recourse

But they too are painful reminders

Of forced isolation

That which is too often a part of mourning

Others try to construct a timeline

For her grief

As though they know what that timeline should be

For her grief

Married friends

Challenged by her singleness

Begin to exclude rather than include

They do not realize

That “single” only means to the widow

A double bed that now only makes room for one

The spouse’s name is no longer spoken

Unless she speaks it

The stories she so treasures

No longer told

Unless she tells them to herself

It’s the widow’s walk without the wail

Or a mournful claque

To encourage the grief over loss

The supportive recognition of her sorrow

Dissipates

After “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

She is alone

Shrouded in her grief

As though she was buried

With her husband

“Donna, you are not forgotten”

Yeah, I cried today

For additional information about “Widow Wednesday:” http://widowwednesday.com/national-widows-day/

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GREASY LEGS, THONGY STRINGY SHOES, NO DRAWS (aka DRAWERS) AND WORSHIP!

I saw the thread on Facebook before I watched the “Kev on Stage” video. Apparently Dr. Juanita Bynum has taken umbrage, and passionately so, to some current dress trends of church women, especially those who stand in front of the church to lead the congregation in worship.

As a worship leader, I guess I am in her line of fire  I quit stockings long ago. They were expensive and were only good for one wear before a run would inch its way up from a toe or wind its way down from the crotch (should I say crotch in this post?).

I will admit it gave me some pause when I first went stockingless;  what would people say? What would they think? What would bare legs say about me as a woman? Would it be safe for me to walk down the street bare-legged, less known, into the sanctuary? Would I be accosted by hungry deacons on the prowl who might mistake my bare legs for solicitation? Would my bare and greasy legs blind the people to the presence of God? Would God dwell in a temple supported by bare and greasy legs? I don’t do stringy shoes or go draw-less so would my bare and greasy legs be more than enough to mark me with the scarlet “T” for THOT? Also, I don’t do greasy legs well. My dry skin absorbs lotion and coconut oil like they’re addicted to the stuff, so is bare-legged and ashy a minor fault? Is it okay for me to stay on the worship team bare-legged and ashy?

Okay, so the above is a bit of facetious hyperbole, but the thread and the video resulted in this blog.

I can see both sides of the argument about modesty and the believing woman. I get the concerns on both sides  But, listen Linda, listen (you too Joe), the external is no true indication of what’s happening in a person’s heart (but you already knew that, right?). This legalism of judging people by their appearance has got to go. How many times have we missed the opportunity to truly minister to someone just because they didn’t look right, didn’t sound right, didn’t dress right? How many broken people have left the church still broken because they weren’t like us and thus unacceptable for us to reach out to them? How many former members are now bitter church expatriates because of the banging of loud and hateful gavels by self-appointed church judges?

And listen, “Cash me outside” with Dr. Bynum’s colorful expressions in her rant  “How ’bout dah?”  Was there no better way for her to express her despair over these  greasy bare-legged stringy shoe wearing draw-less worship leaders  who are, apparently between services, doing the deacons over in the corner?

Donna, you’re judging, now.

Yes, my point exactly.

You see, I am more concerned about the worship leader  who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday to lead worship but has yet to truly understand the heart of worship. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday but has not yet been convicted by grace. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in the front of the congregation every Sunday and relies more on a beautiful voice, the always on-key riffs, than the Holy Spirit. I am more concerned about that worship leader who knows all the songs but is barely acquainted with the Master.

To worship God is to value Him highly  When we begin to declare that one’s worship is not for real because their appearance is not up to our self-constructed standard, then our value of worship is sorely misplaced.

Maybe it’s time we all got back to the heat of worship as delineated in John 4.

“They that worship Him must worship Him in stockings, closed toed shoes and draws (aka drawers).”

Oh, that’s not what it says?

“How bout dah?”