Family Matters!

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My family is very large, but because of geography, schedules, and other factors, over the last several years, we have not all gathered in one place and at one time to celebrate the holidays. After spending the evening celebrating Christmas with my sister and her family, I am yet convinced that family matters.

Most people look forward to the holidays because it is usually a shared  time with family, filled with laughter and joy. Others do not look forward to the holidays, because of the painful reminders of death, grief, or family dysfunction. Family matters, even if there is a tad bit of dysfunction within the unit. As a matter of fact, I do believe that since there is no perfect family unit, the dysfunction is what makes the family unique.

Family matters because it is the place where one can still experience, give, and share love despite the dysfunction. For some the dysfunction is too painful,or hurtful, and it might be best to alienate from that family unit simply to survive, or remain sane.

Family matters and for some, the ties that bind are not biological, but simply the unit that provides a safe space of love, and respect for those individuals. In that case the individuals have created a unit that might not be defined by traditions, or society, but defined by their shared needs, or experiences.

As I watched the younger family members performing a dance routine choreographed by my niece (who reminded me of Debbie Allen in “Fame”), I am sure that my parents were smiling down from heaven. My mother would have been extremely proud of my older sister, who planned, and cooked the entire traditional Jamaican food items.

Despite being sidelined by an all day headache, I was still able to venture out, and share in the laughter and joy of the evening, a reminder that “family matters.”

Let’s Talk about the importance of family and why family matters, especially in the age of technology and Social-Media. Family matters, and I pray that everyone will find a unit, biological, or otherwise, where they can experience that important reality. Let’s Talk- Family Matters!

 

 

 

I Hate Thanksgiving

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She blurted out the words “I hate Thanksgiving!” Her cousins (my children)  readily agreed,  and I understood immediately why they abhor such feelings about a day that celebrates gratefulness. My response to those honest heartfelt words “No, I don’t hate Thanksgiving, but I don’t feel like celebrating the day.” My response did not sway these young adults enough to retract or modify those words, and that is okay with me…for now.

If I were to conduct a family poll, I am certain that the results of responses would be overwhelmingly “I hate Thanksgiving.” Why? Thanksgiving is a reminder of the ache that is still in our hearts, it is a reminder of the absence of one who meant so much to so many, it is a reminder that death sometimes causes chaos that takes time to restore calm.

Thanksgiving is such a painful reminder of my mother’s death, the death of a loving grandmother, and great-grandmother, who died four years ago, days before the great celebration. November 21, 2013 changed our attitude about the Thanksgiving holiday, because it was the day when mom, in the words of my sister “went to sing with the angels.”

We didn’t celebrate family Thanksgiving that year, and we still don’t (at least on a grand scale and in mom’s tradition) at this time. I say “at this time” because I am praying our family through this still difficult love/hate relationship with Thanksgiving.

Mom or “grandma” as the younger ones called her, was the glue that held the family together, she was the “boss,” the “CEO,” the best cook, the best friend/confidant. She was the one who loved unconditionally, the one who was brave enough to hug and dispense discipline at the same time. Mom taught everyone who wanted to learn how to cook. No, she insisted that every son, daughter, granddaughter, or grandson learn how to cook. For those guys who balked she would ask “What if you get married to a girl who does not know how to cook?” They would readily learn the cooking skills mom dispensed because they (we) all loved to eat. Who wouldn’t love to eat the food cooked by the world’s best chef? Not us, we loved to eat grandma’s food and looked forward to the times of our family feasts.

Mom did not drive, nope, she tried taking driving lessons, but never learned. She was content with our dad driving her, and then later her children and grandchildren. Despite the lack of a driver’s license, she managed to go where ever she wanted to go…the Farmers Market was one of those places. Before each big feast (not just relegated to national holidays), we would drive her to the Farmers Market to buy her supplies…curry, jerk seasoning, onions, leeks, spices, callaloo, chicken, oxtails, mutton, shrimp, and lots of fish…nope, can’t forget the fish.

None of us enjoyed executing mom’s specific instructions about cleaning chicken, fish, shrimp or any other meat that was destined to be on her menu. The skin had to be cut off the chicken, and all the red, squiggly vein “thingys” had to be removed. Yuck! The shrimp had to be shelled and deveined (double yuck), the fish had to be gutted and scaled AGAIN,(can’t trust the butcher or fish guys to do a good job…she said).

Despite our objections to the above, we miss all of that, and there is not one person in our family who does not clean chicken or re-scale fish, and de-vein shrimp prior to cooking now in their own kitchens. She taught us well. As a matter of fact, during our late night conversation yesterday, my niece and children shared how they hated going to the Farmers Market then, but now they enjoy the visits and realize that it is a must for healthy living.

We miss this kind, hospitable, loving lady so much, and we are reminded about her death every single day but it hurts much more as we approach Thanksgiving. We will never forget her love and her lessons. Last night as we, (my #1 daughter, #1 son, and niecypoo) talked for hours with our feet on the coffee table (a no 👎 in mom’s book), we laughed, shared and appreciated the family time together. Her legacy lives on in us and while we may “hate Thanksgiving,” we still have love for each other.

Let’s Talk About – “I Hate Thanksgiving!” The reality is we do not hate the idea of gratitude or giving thanks. We hate the feeling of sadness that accompanies death and lingers after death. What about you? Peace!

Let’s Talk About – Guns Replacing Bibles (Death in the Church)

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I was heading home this evening after worship service, and after visiting church members who are homebound and in nursing homes, and turned on the radio to listen to CNN. I caught the last few words from the anchorwoman but was not sure if I heard her correctly so I made a few calls to find out if anyone else had heard the news. No, the two persons that I called were also in the dark and could not confirm what I thought I heard on the radio.

After a few commercials, the anchorwoman returned and this time I heard her correctly. Yes, there was a fatal shooting in a small Texas church, and many were dead and more injured. Church, the last place anyone would conceive that they would be killed by a gun instead of reading a Bible. Although this is not the first instance where church members have died in a church due to gun violence, one still expects that the sanctuary is “off limits.”

The church or sanctuary is not off limits, because evil is now brave enough to enter the house of God bent on killing and destroying whoever is in its path. One has to wonder how and why a person would become so depraved and evil to replace the Bible with a gun. To enter the sanctuary with a gun (or guns) in hand instead of a Bible seems farfetched but it has become a reality that will impact the worship and operations of many churches.

We are living in an age where the reality is that guns are too easy to purchase or access, and the NRA does not seem to have any intentions of curbing the flow or purchase of guns. We will no doubt hear the usual “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but that seems to be a lame excuse not to support gun regulation.

We will also hear “it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.” If that statement becomes a reality then all the “good guys,” or “good girls” in church will be armed with guns and guns will indeed replace Bibles in the church. Who wants to get to that point? Certainly not this writer, and I am sure other parishioners will also not have a desire to see guns replacing Bibles.

What then can we do as pastors, disciples, or church members? We must first of all confront the boldness of evil with prayer, be vigilant, and aware even during our church worship services, demand action from politicians, and legislatures to stem the tide of easy access to guns (especially to stockpiling).

Let’s Talk About – Guns Replacing the Bible (Death in the church), we will not succumb to fear or be paralyzed by the evils actions of those with guns. We will never allow guns to replace our Bibles.

Let’s Talk: Confessions of a Book-Fair Volunteer

I was asked by one of the Elementary School teachers if I could volunteer at the annual Book Fair, and I agreed. Today, I honored the request, and showed up ready, willing, but not sure what to expect from myself or the students.

After being welcomed by, and, instructed by the coordinator, I took my position alongside the other two volunteers. I was still wary, ready for the challenge, but not yet sure how long I would last or want to stay. The students and their teacher came in at designated times, and after a while, I found myself relaxing, and actually enjoying assisting the students as they perused the books, and other items on the shelves.

My intentions upon arrival were to not spend any money, hence my response of a “no,” when the coordinator asked if I wanted her to send for my grandgem. My wallet and handbag were safely secure, and would not be disturbed until it was time for my exit, or so I thought. I ended up assisting several students to purchase books even though they did not have enough funds for their desired book.

So, here are my confessions (life lessons) after spending over 2 1/2 hours at the Book-Fair: (1) Make yourself available- I am glad that I made myself available to honor the coordinator’s request despite my initial unease or wariness. (2) Be patient with others even if they are not making the right decision – One of my assigned task was to steer students towards their designated area or books (especially if parents had issued instructions about a certain purchase). This took a lot of patience especially since some of the little ones were quite resistant to our gentle prodding and advice. (3) See a need and respond – Upon entering the building, I had no intention of spending any money, but that quickly changed. Many of the students had a desire to purchase a book but unfortunately, he/she did not have enough cash for their purchase. I saw the needs and responded by assisting several students with their purchase. (4) Don’t be rigid, be flexible – I have learned that when dealing with children (many children…especially those who are not your own), one cannot be rigid. The longer I stayed, the more relaxed I became as I answered questions, helped to count many loose change, and explained that $3 could not be used to purchase a book costing $12.99 or $15.

Now I understand what my children and now grandchildren experience at a Book-Fair. It is an exciting time for those children who have funds to purchase their desired book (books). It is a not so exciting time for those children who do not have any or enough funds for any purchases. Prayerfully, this sharing will help some parent, guardian, or volunteer to view the school’s annual Book-Fair differently.

Let’s Talk About – Confessions of a Book-Fair Volunteer! I would do it again! Peace!

Let’s Talk – What Happens When You Fall (Or When the 🌎 Sees You Fall like Wendy Williams)

Today I was watching the “Wendy Williams Show,” and got distracted until I saw a FB inquiry from a friend. The inquiry was “Is anybody watching Wendy Williams?” I responded in the affirmative and asked about the inquiry.

The response stated that Wendy had passed out (fainted) while hosting her live television show. I had missed that quick drama because I was momentarily distracted by something else, although the television was still tuned into the show.

I quickly refocused on the show, and after many commercials, the show continued with Wendy sharing publicly that she had fainted. She shared on live television, the reason why she passed out, presumably due to the heat from her green “Lady Liberty” costume.

Since the show was broadcast live, perhaps there was no other choice but to admit –  yes, the television host had really passed out in front of, not only the live studio audience, but in front of her entire viewing audience far and wide.

The clip of Wendy fainting is already available for viewing online by others who missed the live show, and I would guess that someone will create a meme in the future. The world (or at least most of the world) saw Wendy Williams fall or faint but the world got to see her rise from that fainting episode.

Wendy Williams’ reaction to her fainting episode can teach us all a few lessons after a fall: (1) get back up, (2) address the issue, (3) lean on someone or something, (4) keep it moving (5) don’t lose your focus.

She is not the first person, and will not be the last to take an involuntary stumble. One year ago (approximately 11 months and some days), I fainted in the pulpit of my church nearing the conclusion of the worship service. I am grateful that like Wendy Williams, I was surrounded by quick thinking individuals who sprang into action. I am also grateful that there were no medical setbacks or cause attributed to that fainting episode. I am praying that the same will be for Wendy.

Let’s Talk – What Happens When the 🌎 Sees You Fall (Like Wendy Williams). All you have to do is to get back up again. Peace!

 

Let’s Talk About Gratitude

via Daily Prompt: Gratitude

Let’s talk about – Gratitude, the most basic form of appreciation that some choose not to express via a simple “thank you, ” in return for demonstrated kindness, or generosity. Gratitude, the feeling of thankfulness or appreciation for even the smallest thing, or gift, whether or not such is from another person or the Creator.

Gratitude is a feeling that can impact the giver and the receiver in positive ways, and, contributes to a cycle that produces joy, and goodness. When gratitude is experienced and expressed, others are motivated to continue performing good deeds.

If each one of us could make a concerted effort to be grateful for simple things, then expressing gratitude (thank you), would be an automatic response. Sometimes people are unable to experience a feeling of gratitude because of a sense of entitlement.

Today, I am grateful for being alive, grateful for experiencing Sunday worship service with my church family, grateful for the love of my family, and grateful for a warm house. I would like to encourage someone today to pause, take a moment to appreciate who you are, appreciate and be grateful for those who are your family and supporters. Take time to be grateful for the air, every breath inhaled, and exhaled, without the use of a machine. Take time to be grateful for the crisp, cool air that the fall weather brings to the region.

Let’s Talk – About Gratitude, the ability to feel, or experience, a sense of appreciation, and, love that will impact others, and perhaps the world.  A heart and soul filled with gratitude, is a peaceful heart and soul. Peace!

Let’s Talk – About Answered Prayers.

I have been earnestly praying to God about several things for a while, and was internally fussing about those “unanswered” prayers to no one in particular. I was too busy lamenting the other unanswered prayers, that I was oblivious to the most important prayer request that was already answered.

God had answered this particular request, but instead of rejoicing, I was lamenting. The reality that my prayer request had been answered hit me like “a ton of bricks, ” followed by a feeling of stupidity.

How could I have been so stupid not recognize the answered prayer when it was staring me right in the face? I immediately asked God to forgive my lament, and stupidity, and wondered how many people overlook the answered prayer and mope about the unanswered prayers. Perhaps the prayer request is not really unanswered, but in reality, is staring you right in the face or is within easy grasp.

I share this hoping that you might realize that your request has been answered, you just need to recognize and rejoice in God’s response. Let’s Talk About Answered Prayers, we are surrounded by too many not to acknowledge that God indeed hears and responds.

Peace!

Rev. Velma

Let’s Talk About – Christmas

Let’s talk about Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year – the time when sleigh bells ring and children gleefully anticipate presents, gifts, toys and gadgets.

Let’s talk about the predicament faced by Mary, the mother of Jesus as she pondered in her heart the unexpected news of a supernatural pregnancy.

Let’s talk about Elizabeth who after many years of trying to conceive -and who had resigned herself to accept the isolation of being barren – discovered the joy of pregnancy.

Let’s talk about the culture at that time (and to some extent still does today), where a woman’s status was determined by the value or productivity of her womb.

Let’s talk about the faith of Mary and Elizabeth, two women who blessed our faith with the fruit of their wombs. Two women who were divine accomplices in the greatest story ever told.

Let’s talk about Christmas, a season that extends beyond more than a day, a season that would still be a season of joy sans the fir trees, tinsel and wrapping paper.

Let’s talk about Christmas, the reminder that God’s gift to humanity came in an unexpected way via a young teenaged mother, supported by a faithful, caring man, Joseph.

Let’s talk about Christmas as we experience and share – joy to the world -the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, then, now and forever. Yes, let’s talk about Christmas.

Merry Christmas with One Love & Peace!

Let’s Talk – About Thanksgiving

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The fourth Thursday in the United States is a holiday – Thanksgiving. A day usually set aside for food, family, fun (perhaps not in that order) and for some football.

Thanksgiving is the official start of the winter holiday season eagerly anticipated by many people. On the other hand, Thanksgiving, for some ushers in a period of darkness and sorrow.

This period of darkness, not necessarily predicated by the time change, brings about a sense of unhappiness, loneliness and anxiety about the holidays. While some gleefully look forward to this season, others find relief when the holidays are over.

During the holidays it is so important for us to consider and look out for others who might not find glee or joy during the holiday season. The season might be a reminder of loved ones who have died, it might be a reminder of a loss or catastrophic event. Whatever the reason may be, we should not think that these persons are not thankful and do not appreciate the day set aside for giving thanks.

After all everyday is a day of thanksgiving, a day to be grateful and appreciative of and for life. Let’s remember those who are thankful even though they might be sorrowful or grieving. Let’s Talk, -About Thanksgiving. Peace!

Let’s Talk

There certainly is a level of trust that one builds up through the years and via experiences that prompts the feeling “I know that everything is going to be alright.” That trust if misplaced tends to push some people in dark times or places.

I have realized that I must first place my trust in God prior to placing same in other people or things. Trust in God allows me to PUSH (pray until something happens) even when I do not have the desire or will to pray. Through my various life experiences, I realize that trusting God benefits me more than living a life filled with insecurities without hope.

If I trust God then I believe that my present, temporary reality is not the future, permanent promises of God. Trusting God allows me to see beyond the “blues” of the moment and anticipate the “Sonshine” of the promise. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. On Christ the solid rock I stand trusting and believing in God. Cyber angels will you trust God today?

One love & Peace

Rev. Velma