I Love the Way You Love Me

Love has no color and it does not respect age; this I know, because my best buddy is a little fireball of a white child named Emma Lee.  She’s eight years old now but we’ve been best buddies since she was two.  No other love can compete with the love of a child.

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If I leave this place and return to Atlanta, it will be because God honored the prayers of Ms. Emma Lee.  Every day this little girl prays that her Grandma or Daddy will hit the lotto so she can buy me a house to return to her.  She’s so bossy she just might convince God to do things her way.

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I have been calling this child “Ms. Emma Lee” since I met her at her Grandmother’s yard sale six years ago when she was two years old.  Now just about everyone else calls her that too, even her teacher at school.

Ms. Emma Lee has never understood that she is a child, she came into the world grown.   When I met her, this two-year old little bundle of energy was riding her tricycle, bossing around her older cousins, five Jack Russell terriers and negotiating the price of the items on display at the yard sale.  She was so cute, with her curly hair framing her face, ponytail swinging back and forth, country accent, and total command of the English language.  I believe I was so drawn to her because she was so like my daughter Shellis at that age.  (I called my child Ms. Ann and had to constantly remind her she was child, too.)

Give me a precocious child and I immediate go into a teaching mode.  Their minds are razor-sharp.  It’s like programming a computer.  I try to input as much good information as I can into them.  They can absorb it, they feed on information, they live to learn and I know that if I engage them at that age, I can plant good seed in good ground.  I love it.

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So I waited for Ms. Emma Lee to turn her attention to me.  I didn’t have to wait too long.  I knew that spending time with her Grandmother was motivation for her to come over and participate ( by this I mean “take over”) in our conversation.  Once we locked horns that day, and Ms. Emma Lee recognized that I was a tree that she either had to cut down or climb to move, she and I became best buddies, we were inseparable up until the day I moved away.

A motherless child, with unlimited energy living with her grandmother and ailing father can take over a home unless definitive limits are established and rules respected and implemented.  Ms. Emma Lee knew no limitations.

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When someone enters my life, I know there’s a reason, a purpose that God intends for me to fulfill.  My job as I perceived it was to prepare her for the real world were children knew how to be a child. To channel her energy and engage her mind with practical and constructive things that would not only occupy her time but give her life skills that would come in handy as time went by.   Our time together was always a learning and training experience that I would masquerade as fun.  By my calculations, I had three years to do this before she entered public school.  If not, Ms. Emma Lee would be teaching the class with the teacher standing on the side lines wondering how this happened.  Ms. Emma Lee was just that smart.

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Baking cakes and cookies was a way to learn patience and cleanliness; arithmetic and time management.  Operating a camera, she learned to respect the property of others, to view the world around her in a different light; to observe the changes in the seasons, the moon and the stars, and identify different animals and insects.

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At my house, she learned there was a place for her toys, books and games.  She learned that she alone would have to clean up after herself.  A trip to the play area in the mall was exciting for Ms. Emma Lee.  She loved children, especially babies.  I would watch as she learned to wait patiently for another to take their turn on the rides.  She would run back to me when things did not go her way on the playground and another opportunity to learn a life lessons presented itself.

In return, Ms. Emma Lee gives me the kind of love that only a child can give.  Unconditional..we love each other because we do.  Simply, easily, beyond color, beyond age, just because.


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We are best buddies.  Ask her who her best buddy is.  She’ll tell you.  Now, six years later, we write to and telephone each other.  When I go back to Atlanta we have an opportunity to be together, it’s a time of sharing and caring, laughing and hugging.

The harmony of life is made up of the memories. we hold dear.  Ms Emma Lee and I have many memorable moments together.  Our lives are intrinsically bound together.  She can not past my former home unless the memories of our time together replay in her mind.  I can not hear country music without recalling that country accent of a little white girl.

Our favorite song is a country tune by John Michael Montgomery.

You should see us together; a black woman and a white child, two peas in a pod singing his song to each other, at the top of our lungs.

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“I Love the Way You Love Me”. 

 …so completely.




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For Coffee Man

What does love look like?   It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
 It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.
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If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.  He’ll thank you for it.  Don’t worry about feeding him.  He knows the places along Main Street where he can get a meal. He doesn’t eat much.  Besides, his pride won’t allow him to receive a meal from the hands of a stranger. 
Coffee is different.  It warms him up for the day ahead.  He likes coffee.
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Don’t be offended by his appearance.  Living on the street, sleeping on park benches, makes it hard to be presentable, but he keeps his body clean.  It is a source of pride for him. They unlock the bathrooms at the marina at seven o’clock and you can find him there performing his daily ministrations.

You needn’t be concerned that he will harm you.  He won’t.  He’s seen so much pain, been victimized by too many to hurt a fly.

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He has to know the intentions of your heart before he’ll let you help him so be careful how you approach him or he’ll hop on that old bicycle of his and ride away.  It’s best to bring a cup of coffee with you when you come.  Stand about five feet away and softly but casually ask him to join you.  He will watch you carefully.  If you make a sudden move, he’ll be gone.

You won’t get much conversation from Coffee Man.  He’s not the talking kind.  But if he does open up to you, it’s best not to ask too many questions.  He’ll tell you what he wants you to know.

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Early mornings before the sun would rise; Coffee Man and I would be the only ones at the marina.  He would sense my presence and sit up, watching always watching.  I would watch him too after all; it could be a little scary in the predawn hours.  I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me.  But soon, we became comfortable knowing there was another on the bay; watching.  I, for the sun to rise and he for the gatekeeper who would unlock the bathroom door.  Soon, I began bringing an extra cup of coffee.  One for me.  One for him, strong with a touch of milk and plenty of sugar.

When it was time for me to move on, he and I went to the coffee shop he liked. The only shop that would let a man who looked like him stay for a minute.  I gave the old man who ran the shop some money.

“This is for him,” I said.  “Make sure he has a cup of coffee each morning. Make it strong, with a touch of milk and add plenty of sugar.”

I received a text message Christmas Day.  It was sweet but it broke my heart.  I heard from Coffee Man, wishing me and my family a Merry Christmas.

I was glad to hear from him. I wanted to know that he was okay because I want everyone in my world to be happy. That’s naïve. That’s not going to happen.  But that’s what I want.  That’s what I pray for.

Coffee Man is still outside.  He’s sick and he’s lost a lot of weight. He told me that he had been beaten, his front teeth knocked out and his bicycle and his coat stolen.  He told me that he was cold, so cold.


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If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.

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I know he needs so much more, but one cup of coffee will warm him up for the day ahead.

God will do the rest, if you pray with me.

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I know He will.

When I lose, I win

I use to be very good at the game of chess.  Winning came naturally.  I did not play chess competitively.  It was a game.  It was fun.  Many would come to play with me.

One day, my cousin brought some friends to my house, to play chess with me.  I beat three of his friends, than I lost to one of them.   He became the crown prince of chess…it was as if he had won the Super Bowl.  Twenty years later, whenever I am in the presence of these gentlemen…they relieve the experience over again…the day Nate beat me in chess.  They laugh…they taunt me…they slap each other on the back…they toast the victor.

Since that day, I refuse to play chess with a man.  It is no longer fun.  It becomes a game of competition that I refuse to compete in.

I am a woman.  I like being a woman.  I love that God has created a man and a woman differently.  I find the differences in the genders fascinating.  I love men simply for who they are. I enjoy them. I want them to enjoy me. I want to be loved for who and what I am.

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I am not in competition with them.  I will never be.  If ego requires they win. They can win.  I don’t mind losing to them; for in losing I win.  I retain me.  The good part of me.   The feminine part of me.  The part of me I like.  The part of me that God made as a compliment for them.

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Life and chess can be similar with the objective being to place the King in a position of powerlessness.  I don’t want to play that game.  There will be no competition.  I need my King to be powerful.  I will use my talent to make him strong or I won’t play.

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I was not created to compete with men; I was made to compliment them.

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We are different.  I like the difference however, do not require me to become less of a woman so you can win.

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I won’t play that game.

Ever again.

When I lose, I win. When I win…you win too.

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Behind every good man; there’s a good woman.  A woman.  Not a competitor.

Different with a Purpose

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

1 Peter 2:9

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I live in a city where people are suspicious of those who are different.

It is churched people that I speak of.

But as a child of God; am I not called to be different?

I declare – for He declares that I am.

I stand as a peculiar person to many.

Proudly.  Gladly.

Peculiar means atypical; uncharacteristic; strange; even weird.

However I am different with a purpose.

The purpose is to call attention to He

whom has brought me from darkness into His light.

I may not do or say the things that make you comfortable.

Did Jesus?

I may not do or say things that ring familiar to you.

Did Paul the Apostle?

He who called me also said “Try the spirit” ….

Use the formula He has given in His word.

Mary, the mother of Christ dared to be different;

in spite of ridicule

and changed the whole world.

Rehab, a harlot, defied a king and saved a nation.

Rebecca and Ruth left all that was familiar

and married into wealth.

Believing is different but with purpose.

I can promise you the end result of

different with a purpose will be love.

For God is Love.

If you need different in your life try God and live with purpose.

I am different.  Glady.  With purpose…

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That purpose is love.

Christmas – A Legacy of Love

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Remember our Christmas brunch at my house?  Andre and I prepared a full course breakfast and served you.  We stood in a circle and held hands.

We made a birthday cake for Jesus and spoke of our blessings remembering the reason for the season. I found gifts at the dollar store and wrapped them so pretty so that of those who had graced our home, none would leave empty-handed.

The eldest among us, would bestow blessings upon us.

We always had the most beautiful Christmas tree, whether we spray painted pine cones or bought ornaments at the store.

One year, Son Son and I stapled lights to a cross we had made of 4 ft boards and erected it in the front yard to remind those passing by that we were a family that observed God’s gift to the world.

Life has driven our family to different parts of the world but it does not alter the legacy of love we have been given.

Wherever we are, among family or friends, alone or together, we are made greater by the memories of love we have shared.

Hold them in your heart.  Never let them go.

Pass it on.

Never forget who you are and of whom you are.

My daughter, my son…you have been given a legacy of love.

Pass it on.

Lovers of the God We Serve.


Of all my accomplishments my greatest by far, is being mother of two very different but amazing children.  It is both a joy and a privilege to answer the phone and one of the two is on the other end.

My daughter is vibrant and colorful. She fills a room with her personality.  Her conversation is stimulating and diverse.  She is also serious, business minded and opinionated.  She is caring and kind insightful, and discerning.  I can never close a conversation with her without reflecting on a poignant thought she has shared on whatever subject we discuss.  I can never anticipate what the conversation will be about when she calls or what direction it might take but I know that it will always end in prayer.

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My son is and always has been a barometer for me; not as a measurement of atmospheric pressure but of life.  As a child, his interests varied, daily.  He would wake with a smile ready to explore the possibilities of the day.  His excitement was contagious and through his eyes, I rediscovered the joy of life’s simplicity. It was innocent and sweet and perfect.  And I so wanted to protect this beautiful part of him.  But life has a way of eroding the simple heart of a child although it is our most precious commodity.

So I watched him grow into the man he has become and I am so proud.  He has allowed me to, not only witness his evolution, but share it with me; am I not the most blessed of woman?

His conversation has changed over the years as he continues to explore life but his character remains intact.  He is easy-going and laid back, introspective and intelligent.  He too is business minded with excellent reasoning powers. He walks as a man among men.  Not arrogantly but with a certain confidence that I have always known to be born of the spirit of God.

This is our conversation now, his discovery of the God in him.

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There is no greater joy for a mother than to witness her children become lovers of the God we serve.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah 54:13

For Pillow

A woman will relinquish her power for intimacy;

When the intimacy is withheld

She reclaims her power

Given a choice, 

She would rather have intimacy

I  MISS MY PILLOW

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I Need a Helping Hand

 
Wherefore also we pray always for you,
that our God would count you worthy of this calling,
and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness,
and the work of faith with power:
That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you,
and ye in him,
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
2 Thessalonians 1 11-12

 

Who among us is worthy?

Are we not all sinners but for the grace of God?

Do we not all hold on to our little secret desires and fleshly wants?

If we are sinners, if we are covetous, tell “small lies”, occasionally utter a curse word, manipulate others, and speak of the faults of our neighbors; who is worthy of the calling of God?

Who among us is capable of fulfilling the pleasure of His goodness?

Not me.

Not me; but for His grace.

Through faith I receive His power to accomplish His work.

Through faith, with grace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

I pray that God may be glorified in me.

But I need your prayers.

Always.

I need a helping hand.

Pray for me.

Always.

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Reconnect to the Source

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I am a fixer.  I fix things and I fix people.  I am the one that finds solutions to problems so that others don’t have to.

A fixer is a caretaker.  We care for and fix things for everyone in our circle of influence.  We are the ones that are up at 2 and 3 in the morning interceding for others.  We are the ones that get out of bed at 1 am to go the hospitals. We fix the meals for the homeless.  We take care of men, children, dogs, cats, fish, birds and turtles.  We are servants.

Who fixes the fixer when the fixer is broken?  When there are too many things that need fixing that all the fixing that needs to be fixed cannot be fixed by the fixer.

Short answer?  Christ.

No brainer right?

That’s who I have relied on in the past and whom I must turn to now to fix me so that I can continue to be the fixer of people and things. I know this both in my head and more importantly in my heart.  I have lived my life running to Jesus.

I am a single parent, Christ was all I had.  Christ was sufficient for me.  Yet when I needed to feel the physical representation of Christ, I would reach for the hand of my precious young son.  Holding his hand for a moment rejuvenated and strengthened me.  I knew I could not fail in whatever endeavor I had to face.  I would succeed.  When I needed prayer, I would solicit the pure innocent prayers of my young daughter.  I knew that even if Christ would not respond to my petitions, we would honor the simple petitions of a child.

My children are grown now; they live their own lives far from me.  This is how it should be.   They are good people.  I am blessed.

Yet, as a fixer, a caretaker, there are times when I feel separated from Christ as I do right now.  Overwhelmed, alone, and empty.  It seems that I have nothing left to give because I am an empty vessel.   Who will pray for me?  Who will hold my hand?

When my system of support is removed for whatever reason;  I have to find a way to reconnect.

I must do this quickly.

For me to live independent of Christ is to invite disaster.  It means that the problems that I can fix through Christ cannot be fixed through me.  It means that the burdens of others Christ holds me responsible for and those of my own, I am left to carry on my own slender shoulders.

I cannot.   I was not meant to.  I was created for relationship with Christ.

I of myself am nothing.  I of myself can do nothing.

I must reconnect to the source.  By any means necessary, I must reestablish my relationship with my source. Whether or not any one else is here to stand with or for me, I must reconnect to the source.

My source is Christ.

Help me Lord.

 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalms 1  1:3

A Gift

Did I tell you I am the most blessed of women? 

Believe it.

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I am excited about the newness of this day. 

It’s better than opening a Christmas present. 

I don’t know what the day will bring…

what I know and therein lays my joy….

is that it is a gift. 

What I know and herein lies my joy…

is that only someone who cares for me…

will present me with a gift.

Who gives the gift of this day?

Someone who loves me.

Thank you Jesus!!!!!

That’s Love

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Love comes in many forms and through many sources.  You can’t always recognize it until you step back and look at your life.  I remember something about love.

God and I would meet each morning on the front porch after Momma went to work. He watched while I played with the only doll I had.  When God wasn’t around, my big brother was.  Butchy was my big brother.  Five years older than me, Butchy was my hero and he was my first love.    After God.

Butchy and his friends all hung out in front of the old raggedy house we lived in when I was four years old.  The grass that was supposed to be in the front yard had been worn into a dusty baseball diamond by Butchy and his friends.  Home plate was right at our front door.  They used cinder blocks from the dilapidated vacant house down the street that they had pilfered for the bases.

Each day, beginning with the first day of the summer, they would play for hours and hours from first light until the street lights came on.  They had nick names like Mantle, Robinson, and Pepitone.  They were serious about baseball.  The games were loud and for a little girl watching from the porch, very exciting. All these big guys, every size and color, nine, ten and eleven years old, sweating, cursing and spitting, sliding into base, slapping their baseball glove with balled fists, and hitting home runs in our front yard.  It was the most exciting thing in my whole young life.

I wanted to play.  I wanted to wear a baseball cap and run around the bases.  But I was a girl and girls were not allowed.  It was the rule.  Each day I watched the games from our porch. Me and God and Dolly.  I knew all the players both by name and nick name.  I knew the positions they liked to play and their particular stance and baseball idiosyncrasies.   Butchy always chewed gum.   He batted left-handed and always spit out of the right side of his mouth while hitting his left foot with the end of the bat before he settled into position to hit the ball.  For some reason, Billy Nelson, would always stretch open his mouth into a wide side like yawn before he would pitch.  The guys would tease him about catching flies with his mouth.  David kept his left gloved hand behind his back.  He played left field, bending over from the waist, his right arm rested on his right knee.  He never smiled.  Dave played shirtless each day.  From the waist up, that skinny white boy was the same color as Butchy, but he had a blond crew cut and blue eyes.

One day, one very special day, my big brother, called a time out in the ninth inning.  Butchy called me to the plate, and put the bat in my hand.  With his big hands over mine, Butchy moved my hands into place on the bat and showed me where and how to stand at home plate.  Once he was comfortable with how I was positioned, he removed his navy blue baseball cap with the white letters from his head and placed it on my head.

“Okay Billy,” he said, “Roll the ball on the ground so my sister can hit the ball.“

God said, “That’s love. “

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Look for Him in the simplicity of life. He is there, He is waiting for you.  Look for love and you will see Him.  You will know truth.  You will experience love.

 

It takes the God kind of love

           One winter day in the early morning hours when darkness surrenders to light, the demon of bi-polar disease came and stole the gift of life that was my sister. My sister died alone, sitting on the edge of a dirty old mattress, riddled with cigarette holes, in the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. “Maybe,” they said, “She had been dead a week before she was found.”

           Old and ugly, decrepit and scaring looking, the house is still there, my sister is not.  But if you had walked by it last summer, you would have caught a glimpse of who my sister was.  In the front yard, growing around an old rusty light post whose light has long ago ceased to shine, bloomed big beautiful star-shaped white flowers attached to a chaotic arrangement of green vines. The vine of flowers was breathtakingly beautiful.  My sister told me it was a clematis vine.  My sister planted it.  My sister said that a clematis vine is the most aristocratic of all flowers. She said with all its queenly beauty, the clematis vine is very delicate. She said a clematis vine has to have support to bloom and grow properly, or it will die.

          If you walked past the oldest house on the block with the breathtakingly beautiful clematis vine, last summer and the window was open in the living room you would have seen the delicate white lace curtains my sister had hung, seductively dancing in the gently breeze. You would have heard the sweet melodic yet melancholy sounds of my sister’s flute.  You might have stopped to listen. Many often did.  My sister played so well.  You would have felt something pure and good, rich, and beautiful stir your soul. The music might invoke a sense of sadness but you would have left with a good feeling too, because each note resonated beautifully from the depth of her heart.
I loved her.  It was not easy.

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             I miss her more now than I missed her when she was living even though we lived over eight hundred miles apart.  That’s the kind of distance I thought I needed to continue to love her. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease. In order to continue to love someone you believe you have to put distance between you. Either that or you must have an extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of you.

             If my sister were alive, I would wash and comb her hair again.  I did that the last time I saw her, a year ago.  I wanted to do it.  I braided it too.  It needed to be combed and braided. Her hair stopped being a priority many years ago so it always looked like that.  It was matted and pressed to her head on the side she slept on.

              I would bathe her, if she were alive.  I did that the last time I saw her.  She let me bathe her.  She didn’t let me touch her very often.  Sometimes touching made her mad.  I didn’t want to touch her very often.  It made me mad. I didn’t want to be around her very often.  She made me mad.  But the last time I saw her, I wanted to bathe her.  I wanted to clean that nasty rusty bathtub and fill it with clean fresh water.  I knelt on the black tile that was supposed to be white and washed her back.  I rubbed lotion all over the rubbery skin that clung to her frail thin body.  I put baby powder on her and a little perfume too.   I did that, the last time I saw her.  I slipped a clean fresh cotton gown over her head and gently bent her frail little arms to help her get the gown on.  I did that the last time I saw her.   I touched her face.  I looked into her eyes.   She looked into mine.  There were no words spoken, none that you could hear.  I loved my sister and she loved me.  It was not easy for either of us, without God.

           The last time I saw her, I packed up thirty-eight large trash bags of dirty filthy clothing that had accumulated in that old house and Son and I threw them in the trash. I threw out bottles too numerous to count that was once filled with alcohol. I turned over the filthy sheet less mattress she slept on, the last time I saw her.  I saw that her cigarettes had burned clear through to the other side but I didn’t tell her not to smoke in bed.  I put the clean fresh sheets that Mommy had bought for her on the bed.  I sprinkled baby powder on the sheets and I told my sister to lie down now and get some rest.  She let her big sister boss her around, the last time I saw her.  I pulled the covers up and tucked them up under her chin.  I kissed her and I told her I loved her.  She let me.
I went into the filthy kitchen and tried to figure out where to begin to clean.  I rattled some of the dishes in the overcrowded sink.  I needed to remove the dishes and clean the sink before I could begin to wash the dishes.  I had brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning, so I could clean that old house, the last time I saw her.

            “You’re making me nervous,” I heard my sister call out from the bedroom.  Her voice was low and sweet sounding. This time.  Kind of rhythmical, sing songie, like.  I never heard her talk like that before.
“I’m just gonna clean your kitchen, then I’ll head back to Mommy’s,” I called back to her.

            When she replied, in that sing song like voice, “You’re making me nervous”, the second time, I froze for a second, my soapy hands suspended in time, over the sink. Fear crept up and down my spine. Recovering, I tilted my head to the side to listen for the muffled sound of footsteps, scurrying across the hardwood floors coming from the direction of the bedroom, sounds that would signal danger. The last time I heard the sound of footsteps sliding across hardwood floors, my sister tried to push me down a flight of stairs. Hearing none, I quickly dried my hands on my jeans and grabbed my purse from the doorknob where I had hung it when I first got there and I left my sister all alone.

             Therein lays the deception about bi-polar disease.  You hear the things that are not spoken, or things spoken but might not mean what you think it means. You learn to hear and interpret what is really being said. You learn or you might get hurt.  You learn to listen to the sounds and interpret the movements.  I heard my sister the last time I saw her. In that sing song like voice, she told me she loved me but she might hurt me.  She told me she didn’t want to; but she might. In that sing song like voice, she loved me enough to warn me. That’s the God kind of love.

          We did not understand the forces that would cause a beautiful intelligent talented woman to walk naked down a darken street.  We did not understand the forces that made her rant and rave one minute then cry uncontrollably, with such a heart wrenching sorrowful wail the next.  Bi-polar was two opposites fighting against each other, in thought and behavior, within the frailness of my sister’s body.  This disease progressively wreaked such havoc on her thinking process that alcohol was the only medication she believed would weaken the process and bring a form of stability to a mind that would not keep still.  Not meant to be a cure-all, alcohol, overtime, too, deceived her and eventually, eroded her liver.  My sister died alone.

          We did not understand what she tried to make us understand because her actions so often offended and assaulted every sensibility that we possessed.  She stopped trying to tell us.  When communication failed, she went away from us to her own little hole, a place where she could go and lick her wounds and not embarrass us anymore. My sister retreated to the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. There she planted, around an old rusty light post whose light had long ago ceased to shine, a chaotic arrangement of green vines that brought forth big beautiful star-shaped white flowers. She retreated to the only place she could freely communicate the vestige of her heart through her music.  She loved us when she was unlovable.  She loved us when we were unlovable. That’s why she went away. To the oldest house on the block. She played the flute and planted a clematis vine. She never asked for anything more. She died alone.

          I loved my sister and I miss her.  Like the clematis vine, she was beautiful and delicate. Like the clematis vine, without support, its pattern of growth is chaotic. My sister needed my support to live. But it takes the God kind of love to love someone unlovable. I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me to.

           I finally cleaned her house but she was no longer there.  I wanted to do it.  I wanted to do it alone.  I brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning. I opened her closet. Unlike the madness evidenced in every room in her house, the clothes in her closet, were arranged neatly and orderly by color. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease.  If only we could have seen behind the closet of her mind, beyond the chaos of her actions; we could have seen the order that was there to see. But, it takes the God kind of love.

         Among the dirty filthy clothing that once again had accumulated on the floor in her bedroom, I found a reminder of who she once was. I found her gold charm bracelet with a solitary little gold heart with her initials and her birthday inscribed thereon. It dangles from my wrist now. I never take it off. I found her flute. She played so well. I took her collection of CD’s. Surprisingly, I found only songs of praise and worship. Now, eight hundred miles away from the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house, I play them, and I raise my arms in gratitude to a holy and merciful God because I know He knows.  I loved my sister and I miss her.  I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me too.

           Down the street and around the corner, from Mommy’s house, there is a solitary grave among many where my sister rests.  You cannot miss it. Look for the vine with little white star-shaped blooms. It is a clematis vine. It is the queen of all flowers. There is no light post to support the vine, only a tombstone.

It takes the God kind of love.

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English: Puawhananga (Clematis_paniculata) flo...

Less we forget

 I want to remember your smile

Not your tears

I want to remember your smile

Not your fears

I want to remember

before                         

   The madness

     I want to remember

before

 That there was joy

       In your life

before

Then I will not forget

           As it was in yours

So it was in mine

Because you were there

before

Jesus said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15: 4,5

                                                                                

Wishes of Her Heart

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There comes a time that we must face our own mortality. A time when we realize that we have more years behind us then before us.  A time when we begin to think about the end of our life and make preparation, for Tricia, that time has come.  No, she is not sick or dying.  She is alive and well.  She is still a valuable employee of corporate America.  She simply wants to exercise some aspect of control over her end time.
Tricia is one of those people often described as “eternally youthful.”  Even in her mid-sixties, she is beautiful.  She is so full of life; giving and vibrant, mentoring and mothering everyone around her.  To meet her is to love her.  Five years older than I, Tricia was my mentor through those all confusing college years and the maid of honor in my wedding.
We have had an extraordinary friendship these forty some odd years. Time and distance, arguments, men, children, or money may have tested our friendship but, we withstood them all and for all intents and purposes, we are sisters.  Sisters of the heart.
I believe that’s why she called me yesterday.  She wants the wishes of her heart made known and she wants me to do it.
Her wishes are simple enough:
  • She wants to be cremated.
  • A Japanese Maple is to be purchased and planted in her daughter’s yard and she would like her ashes are to be buried under the tree.
  • She has set aside approximately two thousand dollars for a party in her honor.  Where those who love her can gather together and tell stories about her.  No solemn, boring funeral for her.
  • She appointed me to speak on her past and someone whom she has worked with for twelve years to speak on whom she is now.
  • There is a picture that hangs above her bed that she wants blown up and set on a stand at the party for all to see; because those who love her will understand why she chose that particular picture.
  • She made me promise that her beloved Chihuahua, Co Co, her companion and best friend be cared for and not be placed in a shelter. But if she and Co Co die together, like in a car accident, that they be buried together.
 These are things that I can do.  I can convey her wishes to her family. I  will be strong and fight for her when the time comes, if she precedes me in death.
 There was however one additional request that she made of me.  There is one wish of her heart that is not within my power to grant although with all my being I will try to fulfill.
 The telephone call I received from Tricia was prompted by two dreams that she had.  In one dream, she saw someone she could not identify at the point of death.  In that dream, there was an inordinate amount of blood.  The second dream that she had she felt was directly related.  Someone that she did not recognize asked questions of her.  “Do you know?”  They asked, “Do you really know?”
 Her dreams affected her so, she rose from her bed and called everyone she could think of to find out if they were okay.  Finding her loved ones well, her thoughts turned to her own mortality.  Tricia said she began to think about all the people that she encountered and interacted with in her life.  There are so many.  She began to think about all the people she had befriended and helped along the way.  After everything said and done, she surmised, she has only three, maybe four, friends that remained through all of her life’s ups and downs.  Friends that did not run when the hard times came.
Tricia asked me to  promise one last thing.  “Don’t let me die alone.”  She asked me to be there to see her through. “To die alone,” she said, “means I never lived.”

I know what her dreams mean, and with God’s help, I will see her through.  Not because she’s dying, but because she’s living.  Now is the time to make this wish of her heart come true so she will never be alone.

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me,

be with me where I am;

that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:

for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:24

Chasing Tail is Like Straddling the Fence

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The Pharisees came to Jesus demanding a sign, proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God, rightful heir to the kingdom; the transformer of lives; the restorer of life; deliverer, healer, Savior.

They asked questions of Him to trap Him; waiting for that “AHA” moment when they could proclaim to His followers that He was a fraud.  But Jesus knew their hearts.  He warned His disciples to be aware of their hypocrisy.  The leaven of the Pharisees He called it; the real ingredient that gave rise to their actions.

The disciples in their limited knowledge of the things of God, looked at what they could see with their own eyes; a single loaf of bread; to try to understand the meaning in the words of Christ. To clarify His meaning, Jesus reminded them of the miracles He performed on two separate occasions, feeding over 9,000 people with twelve loaves of bread.  Jesus wasn’t speaking of earthly things.  He was speaking of spiritual things. The proof of that which He was, was in the things that He had accomplished before them in the past in their presence.  What further sign did He need to provide to establish His personhood?

The message was in essence a calling to the disciples to examine themselves. The questions His disciples needed to answer and settle for themselves was, “Is He who He says He is?  Can He do what He says He can?  Do you believe or are you still waiting for a sign?”

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Sometimes we just have to stop and remember the miracles of our past to remember the promises for the future.

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The question we must ask ourselves while we wait for the manifestation of His promises for our future is whether or not we are filled with the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocritically waiting for further proof of the personage and ability of Christ to act on our behalf or do we believe, really believe because we have experienced His love in the past and have seen a mere glimpse of His Almighty power.

At what point in our lives do we stop chasing our tails?  When do we stop straddling the fence?  When do we set aside the hypocrisy? 

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What does it take to settle the issue once and for all?  Is Jesus who He says He is?  Can Jesus do what He says He can?  Do I believe His Word?  Do I really believe?

Examine yourself.  Let there be no doubt.  

Do you believe that  Jesus has the ability to do a lot with a little in spite of what you see before you?  Do you really believe that He has a wonderful plan for your life? Remember the grain of mustard seed?

As for me, I know He is able to do exceeding more abundantly than anything I can hope or think.  So I think BIG thoughts and I lift my hands in praise and worship; the true ingredient that gives rise to my actions.  Why?  ‘Cause I believe.

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No more chasing tail!   No more straddling the fence!