That I Might Have Life

I know a woman, who suffered unspeakable brutality,

in a time when women were but chattel,

at the hands of one who took an oath before God to love, protect and cherish her.

I know a woman, who suffered in silence,

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the indignities caused by a philandering husband

who chose to flaunt rather than hide his indiscretions with different women,

I know a woman who raised five children

all alone

on an income of less than $7000 a year.

I know a woman, who worked three jobs at a time,

who slept on the front porch so her boys and girls could have the two bedrooms.

I know a woman who had a heart large enough to embrace

two more motherless children

when she did not know how she was going to feed her own.

How many of your dreams died daily?

How did you endure the loneliness when it came late at night?

How many times was your hope scattered as disappointment came?

How many prayers did you offer up that seemingly went unanswered?

Where was your peace?

Where was your piece of the American Dream?

I cannot count the cost of my high school graduation party

or my prom dress.

How many shirts and pants did you have to iron?

How many tubes of lipstick did you sell?

How many bottoms did you have to wipe?

For me.

For me.

How do I begin to count the cost of your sacrifice

that I might have life?

How do I begin to say thank you?

Will words do?

For you.

For you.

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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.




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

We Need the Gift that She Is

Today while in the swimming pool, I met an 87-year-old woman.  If you can believe a woman can be beautiful at that age, believe that she was beautiful.  Snow white hair, a rosy almost wrinkle free complexion, and when she smiled, you just couldn’t help but smile with her. How her face lit up and her eyes danced with joy when she smiled.

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We talked for over an hour. Although both of us came to exercise, she to stimulate legs that refuse to walk without a walker and I to simply enjoy the rejuvenation water always seem to bring to me, we did not.  We talked; rather, she talked, I listened.

She told me about her lovely neighbor who had moved next door to her a few months back and how she cooks dinner for her one or two times a week. She told me about her deceased abusive alcoholic husband that she had married and divorced two times. She told me about the men that had sought her affections since his death and how she resisted their attentions out of fear. She told me about her only grandson that she raised since the age of two when her son and first daughter in law divorced and discarded the child. She spoke with pride of him for he is now a professor of geology in a major university. Then sadly, she told me that for all his achievements and through all the love she gave him, and all the years that has passed; he still suffers from bouts of depression resulting from being abandoned by his parents as a child.

She also told me something else.  She wants to leave this world, she said. It is not that she is tired of living; she simply does not know how to live anymore. No longer can she do the things that she did before. Her legs and her hands refuse to cooperate.

Her son lives less than a mile from her.  Oh he dutifully comes when she calls him.  But she is not comfortable in doing so.  You see his wife, her second daughter in law of thirty years, does not want to compete for her son’s attention.  She and her grandson  might be tolerated on holidays but clearly are and have been an unwanted intrusion in the life the son has carved with his wife of thirty years. Oh the pain in her eyes when she speaks on this can cause a heart to break.

She wants to leave soon she said. She said she has finally come to terms with the limitations of her life.

I watch her carefully and I am afraid for her; there is finality in her voice, determination in the lifting of her chin.

As we prepare to go our separate ways I ask her not to go away yet.  I ask her to stay awhile in this world, in my world.  I tell her of the joy her company meant to me today and what it can mean to others.

I’m not ready for her to leave this world.  I need, no, we need the gift that she is.

Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman retaineth honour:

Proverbs 31:10
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

 

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.