Tag Archive | Women

Choices, Decisions, and Faith, Oh My! The Journey Begins…

It had been a tough week. Emotionally drained, I dragged myself through each day! I felt disconnected, standing on the outside of myself going through the motions. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of momentum! I was caught up in the doldrums and I had no energy to stir anything up! Each morning I crawled out of bed in weary anticipation of the same kind of day.

But Sunday, Oh Sunday invited me into the new week with a full blown praise party in my car on my way to church. It was triggered by one nonsensical word spoken by a pastor in a service that was live streamed. That one word, “whoop,” sent me into a paroxysm of praise! I needed that moment. It was my moment of recovery but I still was not where I needed to be spiritually.

I had allowed my emotions to trump my faith. I was in fact dragging my faith behind me as I allowed my emotions to take the lead which led to the inevitable result, malaise and doldrums. I looked forward to nothing. I was excited about nothing. I wanted nothing. I embraced nothing. I expected nothing.

Then I picked up a flash drive onto which I had loaded some writings years ago. I inserted the drive into my computer, clicked and opened it. I immediately went to the folder labeled, “Gern,” my code word for Journal in case someone got into my computer and happened to come across it (as if their curiosity wouldn’t be piqued by this weird word). “I thought I knew what the journal contained and to some extent I did but I was not prepared for the rawness of the text, the pain and passion between each line. As I read those thirteen year old words, I had to ask myself, “Have you ever felt this way about the Lord?”

It was a revelation that my heart best so strongly for a person while those same kind of heartbeats for God were often moment based and momentary rather than lifestyle laced.

From time to time, when I am in my car, I listen to a Christian radio station that plays hymns in different slots of time. In the week following my week of the doldrums, I was driving and I tuned in to that station. A hymn played that I had not heard in years,‘I’d rather have Jesus.” At first I was locked in to the beauty of the arrangement and the singers. Then the question came to me, when was the last time I put Jesus first in everything rather than giving Him first place in a few things? How often have I intentionally surrendered the reins of my life to Him in all things?

I read the book, “in His Steps,” some years ago. I like the premise of what would Jesus do and tried to emulate the concept but as with all trends, that soon passed as a habit. The hymn challenged me to institute a “I’d rather have Jesus” mindset in all things, as best I could in this fragile frame of dust.

My journey begins now. When I reach out to try and hold on to people and stuff; when I try to control circumstances, when I put It or Them before Him, I will give it my all to remember, “I’d rather have Jesus.”

63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Rhea Muller
George Beverly Shea

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than vain applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords

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?”

MONDAY MUSINGS: Stuck In The Middle Again

I met Grace and Frankie last year.

Septuagenarians coping with a new normal.

Divorcees who never expected three score and ten to include a roommate and dislocation from all that once was.

I have watched their lives unfold.

I have laughed with them.

I have cried with them.

I have been angry with them, at them and for them.

I have grown to love them as friends and contemporaries.

I have never met them.

You see, “Grace and Frankie” is the name of a Netflix series I discovered last year.

Played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the Anal Waspy Socialite and the Free Spirited Jewish Hippy Bohemian (who are radiant in these roles), they are an unlikely coupling as roommates but they find themselves having to run in place on the same track as they initially cast side-eye at one another.

Their husbands, soon to be ex-husbands, announce to them (around a restaurant table to waylay a scene, the husbands hope) that they are in love with each other, have engaged in an affair with one another for twenty years and now that they can, they want to get married…to each other.

Sayonara life as the ladies once knew and lived and loved.

Sayonara to a future filled with retirement and grandbabies and exotic trips around the world.

Sayonara yesterday, hello uncertainty.

I feel their pain, their sense of loss, their severed identity.

The ex-husbands move on with life as usual with the desired partner and no drastic unexpected changes (well, maybe one).

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Grace and Frankie have to figure out exactly what is “moving on.”

This is not an attempt to review the series, and I suppose some of the material should be problematic for me, but it isn’t.

Instead, I want to talk about the “lossness” with which the women struggle, loss that is palpable throughout each episode.

Who wants to be seventy years old having to figure out the rest of their life, however long that life might be?

How do you pursue purpose at a stage in life when you thought you had accomplished pretty much all you were going to accomplish by that stage of the game?

Grace and Frankie stumble and fall, regain their equilibrium to move awkwardly forward like a blind person in a unknown space.

They have to learn to walk again, 69 years later, and they have to learn how to negotiate their own way through the rest of their life without fear hobbling their stride!

Eventually, they become fearless and fierce in pursuit of their own voice.

Real life Graces and Frankies take note.

Sometimes the end really is the beginning

I see you, Grace and Frankie  I see you!

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AGING IN AMERICA

One day it hits you like that proverbial ton of bricks.

You are no longer a teenager.

You are no longer a young adult.

You are no longer middle-aged.

You are old.

Euphemistically, a senior.

More than half your life is behind you.

You could live your life celebrating the fact you are still here.

You could, that is, if America did not work so hard at thumbing its nose at you.

Doing its best to point out that wrinkles and gray roots are anathema.

Wisdom is no longer revered.

Emeritus really means out to pasture.

Pursuits of achievement and awards are relics from the past.

Expectations for more are rooted in yesterday.

Aging in America is too often the death rattle for women.

Wrinkles become the bane of the mirror.

Makeup settles into creases and crevices hitherto unknown.

Eyelashes and eyebrows betray her with gray growth.

Hair thins and arm wings flap.

Body parts that once stood proudly, now sit down, never to stand again without support.

A cougar when she relishes the company of a younger man.

An old fool if she is wealthy.

“Growing old is not for sissies!”

It is for those who have the courage to age in America without apology!

Come, grow old with me. . .

 

 

TUESDAY THOUGHTS: Praying On Purpose

It was supposed to be just the one prayer

A single thought that demanded release

“I pray today

for the woman”

Just one thought

I thought

But each day

Thoughts

Kept returning

Morphed into prayers

Day after day after day after day

“I pray today

for the woman”

Unrelenting

Focused Concern

For a woman

Unknown

Unseen

By me

But apparently

Known

And

Seen

By God

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“I Pray Today. . .”

 

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW?

I usually have at least one opinion about Black History Month, mostly based on my personal history and experience. I always made it a point to discuss this February phenomenon when I was a talk show host on RMG radio.

While going through some old papers, I discovered a poem I created from the thoughts I scribbled in a dark theater as I watched Tyler Perry’s movie adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play, “for colored girls who have considered suicide /  when the rainbow is enuf.”

I remember the uproar that surrounded Ms. Shange’s work when it first came out. The movie, from my perspective, brought the same intensity to the movie screen. This poem was my attempt to capture my raw visceral response, the emotions raised as I watched the story line unfold.

This is one of my Black History moments.

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I do not know

what to expect

I walk into the theater

sit down

and

wait

for what?

I know of the play

and

Ms. Ntozake Shange

its playwright

I remember the turmoil

that swirled around her

around the work

of her hands

and heart

back then

my generation’s un-uttered angst

written in plain view in black and white

I do not know

what to expect

when I go in

and take my seat

when I leave

I wonder

what do I do with

or

make of

these emotions

put on blast?

the movie unwraps itself

and the stories

of the women

begin to wrap around each other

I hurriedly write

snatches of lines

thoughts that rush me

I write

in darkness

out of the darkness

illuminated only by revelation

this community called woman

must pay attention

to each other’s

heartbeat

“A deliberate coquette”

the line startles me

though it is strangely beautifully lyrical

a deliberate coquette

in street language

“I choose to be a whore!”

what pain can drive

a soul to self-inflicted despair

Promiscuity on Purpose

but

what am I do to

with that woman who has yet

to identify her

deliberate coquettish-ness

even

as she recoils at the thought

“another anonymous lay?”

“Raped by Invitation”

an oxymoron spoken

by a wounded soul who wraps

herself in a shroud

of

silent despair

rather than reveal her wounds

because

she laughed and smiled and sat down and dined and dared

to invite a stranger-friend

into her sanctuary

because she trusted the message

and

he violated

her

trust

My fellow theater voyeurs

laugh

in the wrong places

I think

mostly women

they laugh

at

inexplicable scenes

of

heartache

angst

betrayal

bitter tears

too often

greeted with

giggles

guffaws

titters

how many women laugh

nervously

in the dark

because of unspoken connections

to the object

of that laughter?

The desperate girl child

seeks the back alley abortion

desperate

the naive excitement

of a back seat sexual encounter

vanquished by desperation

unwanted life planted in her

that which her broken

and

possessed mother

declares

“that growing inside you is sin”

so many stories tangled together

even as we women believe

we walk a solitary path

but

if we would just look up

we would discover

we are surrounded

by sisters

whose stories

mirror our own

“how are we still alive?”

broken

scarred

forgotten

hiding our scars

lest someone ask

“how did that happen?”

separate lives

connect through pain

connections forged

in the conflagration of life

connections that link us

to the next heart

that beats in sync

to the inequity

called LIFE

it is the pain

that makes us one

in the healing.

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