I've finally learned that God won't give me what I deserve until I start acting like I deserve it.
Check out this poinsietta!
It's February and this thing is in full bloom. I want to tell it, or at least suggest to it, that it's time is up. But then I had better think again...
You see, I am working on a book anthology project with women who are my age. Some are a few years younger, others are a few years older, but the majority of us are at a stage in life when some would say our time is up.
Time is up for us to be embarking upon a new adventure like this. Time is up for us to be embracing something new.
But we are saying one loud and resounding "I don't think so!"
We still have the energy to reach new heights and to turn new corners. In fact, in many ways, we are still flowering, perhaps not even yet in full bloom. In other words, we're just getting started!
So carry on poinsietta! You do you. And we'll do us. We'll keep growing until the Son tells us not to.
Right now, I am dealing with an ongoing series of bad hair days. It seems that no matter what I do, my hair never looks the way I want. I use all sorts of products, take vitamins, cut it, puff it, and it still looks a lot less than what I hoped. I feel defeated. I am hating my hair – or what’s left of it. I feel less than, not as attractive as I want to be. I feel like I ignored the signs and never should have let my hair get this bad. I feel frustrated and helpless, I’m just not sure what else I can do.
For as long as I can remember, I thought that long hair was something to be envied. To me, it was a sign of beauty. My mother has gorgeous hair that always looks nice, but I was just not that lucky. For years I would jokingly say that my hair gene skipped several generations and went ALL the way back, but the joke isn’t so funny right now. I’ve felt my most attractive when my hair was thick and healthy and I sure would like to have that feeling again.
Hair loss and I are not strangers, I’ve dealt with it on and off for over 40 years. That said, what I’m through now is extreme, it’s never been this bad and it makes me feel very uncomfortable. Will the breakage continue? What’s next? It’s downright frightening.
I’ve shared this problem with a few people, but not many. I figure that there’s isn’t anything that anyone can do, so why bother. Plus I’m really hoping that most people don’t notice the problem that’s plaguing me.
This hair loss is very upsetting to me, I’m almost obsessed with it. I’m constantly worried about the condition of my hair, yet I know that worrying can only make the situation worse. I just never, ever thought it would get this bad.
But through it all, as with all unsettling transitions, there are lessons I can learn.
Lesson #1: Patience. This loss was gradual, so I have to understand that my hair is not going to grow back, or get back to a healthy condition, in a day. I have to be patient and force myself to be OK while my hair does whatever it is going to do.
Lesson #2: Keep an open mind. In recent years I’ve come to see magnificent beauty in many women with short hair. Natural styles, bald heads, stylish short cuts, tiny braids, I am loving them all and have broadened my opinion of what looks “beautiful.” I need to extend that to myself and realize that maybe, the time has come, for me to wear my hair super short and keep it that way. Maybe that’s where my hair will be most healthy. I may need to adjust my make up and earring choices, but maybe I can pull it off. I’ve got to be open to trying.
Lesson #3: Don’t sweat what I can’t change. I’m changing my hairstyle, using new products, and taking vitamins. I’m doing my part. Now it is up to my hair to do what it can to regain its health. And, if it doesn’t, I am learning that I have to be ok with that. I can’t sweat what I can’t change.
The truth of the matter is that these three lessons can be helpful in other areas of my life, too.
I can certainly be more patient with co-workers who get on my nerves, with drivers who I think are in my way, and even with people I care about who just aren’t who I need them to be. As I extend patience to my hair, I must also extend it to myself and to others.
Secondly, I can expand my mind to entertain opinions that are different from my own, recognizing that “different” does not mean wrong. With an open mind, I can better understand and more fully respect others, even if I don’t agree with them.
And sweating things I can’t change… well, I do that very well and I do it very often. But I have to adjust that way of thinking if I want to remain healthy and able to embrace all that life has to offer. Agonizing over things I can’t change only limits my life’s possibilities and keeps me stuck. I’m at a point in life when I cannot afford to be stuck, life is too short.
I’m really hoping that my hair will become healthy and grow back. At this point in my life, I think I’ll always keep it short, but I’d love for it to be healthy again. I want to stop worrying about it and give my attention to something a lot more pleasant. I’ll seek medical attention when that’s possible. I’ll also continue taking my vitamins and concentrating on my overall health.
If you or someone you care about are struggling with hair loss or some other issue that has you feeling unsettled, I hope my story has helped you. Sometimes just knowing that you’re not going through a troubling time alone can be a comfort. We’re in this together and I know that we’ll be ok. Whether the hair grows back or not, whether or not your issue is resolved the exact way you’re hoping, let’s trust that, in the end, we will be okay.
There, I said it. I need a husband and I'm willing to make the first move. If I have to, I will propose.
Sorry women libbers... sorry super bad independent women... you can have this single life. I've tried it and it's hard. I don't like it. I Need A Husband.
But not every day. Just on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
Now, remember, I've been married and while my divorce process was nothing short of horrific, there were some happy days during my marriage. The trips, the laughs, the dreams, yeah, there were some happy times. So it really would be nice to be married again, but that's a WANT. That's different and that's not what I'm talking about. I NEED a husband on about three days a week.
Wednesday: That's trash day. I NEED someone to gather the trash accumulated and drag the trash cans to the curb. Summer, winter, spring, and fall. Rain and sunshine. The trash needs to go out and I NEED a husband to do that for me.
Thursday: I am finding more and more small jobs that need to be done in my home. Not the major stuff that needs the attention of a contractor, but simple things like handling that thermostat I can't open and the light bulb I broke trying to change. This is my short list and today is Thursday. It would have been very nice to have had a husband today. Moving forward, I would happily gather the things I need done and he could do them all on Thursdays.
Friday: I NEED a husband to enjoy Fridays with me. Friday is my favorite day of the week because it is the beginning of the weekend. Even during quarantine, it would be nice to have someone to share some take-out with or to share my view of a beautiful sunset.
I'm not trying to jinx myself. If the right man comes along, I'd WANT to fall in love with him and be married. But I NEED a man in my life on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
Great benefits, just 3 days a week, not a bad gig.
Reading and hearing what white people are saying about racism right now is rather interesting to me. I know they mean well, I know that their hearts are in the right place, yet I find some of their responses to the killing of George Floyd and to the riots in the aftermath… well, I find them interesting.
It’s as if they just woke up and realized what I never had the luxury of not knowing. I never didn’t know that America wasn’t a fan of mine or of people who look like me.
I never didn’t know that there were people who would take one look at me and decide who I was simply based upon the color of my skin.
I never didn’t know that my master’s degree would put me on par with white colleagues with a BA.
I never didn’t know that my ability to do a good job, to write a good report, to maneuver through a difficult project would be questioned because I’m a Black woman in a white world.
I never didn’t know.
I never didn’t know that I could be followed or asked to show ID in a store because of what my skin color represents to some store managers.
I never didn’t know that my hairstyles would be questioned and judged.
I never didn’t know that I wouldn’t be welcomed in some neighborhoods.
I never didn't know that I might not always get the best seat or get the best service in restaurants I spent my money in.
I just never didn’t know.
So for white people to now tell me how sorry they feel for me, well, I’m not sure how to take that. Because my life has been fine. I've managed.
Please don't feel sorry for me. Save your sorry for the families that have lost loved ones while I've just simply been slighted, ignored, overlooked, and insulted.
Save it for the people of my mother's generation who thought that their marching and sitting was so that their children and grandchildren wouldn't have to witness the atrocities we're seeing today.
Save your sorry for the young Black adults who don't yet understand that no matter how much Starbucks coffee they drink, they are still Black folks in a white world and pray that when their eyes open to this fact, it won't be too painful.
Save it for them, cause I'm good.
Sure, there certainly is a lot of room for improvement and there are things I've seen and endured that I hope the next generation won't have to experience. But understand me when I say that this is all I've ever known and I'm OK.
You see, I never knew how not to be comfortable in my skin... never knew how not to turn the other way when an insult was hurled my way... never knew how not to just deal with it. I know I have my parents and my upbringing to thank for that. And I'm grateful.
So, white people, please understand me. I'm not suggesting that your comments right now are anything but sincere. I know they are and I appreciate them. But it just feels a little odd. You're just acknowledging what I've lived with my entire life. How could our realities be so very, very different?
Thank you for finally getting it. But for me? Its been my life.
I never didn't know.
I have a large, beautiful plant in my house. It would be perfect for someone, but it is not perfect for me. It's just too big.
I've moved it from room to room, from corner to corner, but it just doesn't quite fit anywhere.
I can't throw it out, can't purposely kill it, that just wouldn't feel right. So, about a year ago, I started to ignore it. I wouldn't water it, wouldn't give it the sunlight it needed, I just pretended that it didn't exist.
My hope was that it would die a quick, painless death and I could get rid of it with a clear conscious.
But that didn't happen. That doggone plant thrived!
I looked at it a few days ago and the thing is the most beautiful shade of green that I've ever seen!
It has new growth... it's soil is moist... I have no idea how this happened. It's almost as if my plant is a grown-up church girl disguised as a house plant, and she pulled and paraphrased the Scripture from Job and said to herself "Yeah thou she try to slay me, I will put my trust in God." I'm serious, this is so strange. I have no idea how that plant has survived.
But, you know me, I like to find the meaning in everything, no matter how seemingly mundane, and I think about how this plant represents us at one point or another in our lives.
Come with me into the time machine...
Let's go back to a time when a person... a place... or a thing made you feel devalued. Like you didn't matter. Like life would be better if you weren't around.
Remember how that felt? Rejected? With self-esteem lower than low? Worthless? Cheap?
What did you do?
Maybe you ran and hid, hoping that when you reappeared, feelings would have changed.
Maybe you went through the motions of trying to change yourself, trying to make yourself "more worthy" of the attention you craved.
Maybe you cried or became angry.
At one point or another, we've all probably done several of these things, but now I consider what my plant did when I decided that there was no room for it in my world.
The plant thrived, in spite of it all.
It somehow watered itself... it basked in the glow of it's own sunlight... it fed it's own soul.
That's what we have to do, too.
We have to find ways to keep ourselves encouraged, even when that seems contrary to the voices we're hearing around us.
This is more important now than ever, now that many of us are confined to our homes and unable to do the things that used to bring us joy. The shopping trips are far less frequent, the brunch dates with family friends are nonexistent, those entertaining evenings at concerts and plays are not happening right now.
So what tools are you using now to keep yourself encouraged?
I write. I listen to music. Or talk with family and friends. I find things to laugh about. And I pray.
Be sure you have your arsenal of tools you can use to nourish the soil of your soul. We can't afford to dry up during this season, there is far too much for us to do. The world needs us now.
So, in the midst of this global pandemic, crazy news stories, and crazier politics... don't forget to Water Yourself.
The subject of my pastor's sermon on Sunday was, "Can you hear me now?" and he spoke of this coronavirus being God's way of getting our attention. As I thought about what exactly God wants from us during this time, it occurs to me that while He may have some universal things He's expecting from His people, God may also be expecting different things from each of us, based upon who we are.
For example, for some He may be asking us to slow down. For others He may want us to spend more time in His Word, to reconnect with family and friends, to start a business, to consider a new job, to be more creative, or to simply be still. Whatever the case may be, God is definitely speaking and I don't think He expects us to come out of this time the same way we entered it.
"Can you hear me now?" Yes, God. We're listening.
Well, if I thought January was a stressful month, along came February…
During this month, someone VERY near and dear to me was in the hospital and got coded. You know what that means… it means that the person was experiencing a life-threatening emergency. My person got coded.
I saw it. “Code blue Room 332” and my heart sank. I will never forget the horror of that moment.
I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed before and I asked others to pray. I believed that if we bombarded heaven, what some saw as inevitable didn’t have to happen.
And it didn’t happen.
As it turned out, my person got coded, but he never actually coded. The hospital thought my person would code so they called in all of the forces, just in case. I am grateful for how quickly the staff moved, but the fact is this:
Man thought it was over. God said, not so.
What a God we serve!
And, while this was certainly an extreme case, there are times in life when people call a code on our lives, thinking that a difficult situation is going to be the means to our end -- literally or figuratively.
We lose a job – code blue.
A loved one dies – code blue.
We get a divorce – code blue.
A friendship ends – code blue.
We lose our home – code blue.
Our business fails – code blue.
We’re lonely – code blue.
We've been terribly misunderstood – code blue.
An apology isn't accepted – code blue.
Our money is gone – code blue.
But the good news is that we serve a God who cares absolutely nothing about man’s code blue. I’m a witness to that.
Some people may have coded me when my marriage ended. They may have thought I'd sink into a deep depression, wonder where I was going to live, think I'd crumble due to the disappointment or embarrassment of it all. Maybe they thought I’d crumble after one court appearance led to the next court appearance which lead to one challenge after another. But, thankfully, I never coded myself and God certainly never coded me. Now I can honestly tell you that my current days are so much brighter and full of so much more SPARKLE than my yesterdays. So back up off of me, code patrol, I’m doing just fine.
I’m writing this to encourage anyone who may be feeling like giving up today. Don’t do it.
Remember what the Word tells us in I Corinthians 2:9, But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love him.
So please stay the course. Keep it moving. Pray. Seek the help you need. Work hard. Then pray some more.
And by all means… Don’t give up, don’t give in. Don’t let anyone code you and, most importantly, don’t code yourself.
Every year people claim that that's going to be "their year." The year they lose weight, find love, start to exercise, change the world, you know how it goes. But, honestly, I really think that some special things are going to happen this year.
I just feel it in the air. I feel like shocking and wonderful things are going to happen this year, and it begins with me.
In January, I flew to LA for the day so that I could be there when my nephew sang the National Anthem at the Lakers game.
In January, I turned 60 years old and had the most wonderful and thoughtful celebrations ever.
In January, I came to terms with relationships I'd been wondering about.
In January, I had a prophetess confirm some interesting things about me, my calling, and my life.
There were some wonderful moments in January. But then...
In January, a dear friend of mine passed away. I'd spoken with her a few weeks priors to her passing and I knew that her health had taken a turn for the worse, I just didn't know the severity of it all. I got a call on a Tuesday morning that she was in ICU and I left work early to go visit with her. I had no idea that just a few hours later she'd be gone.
In January, I asked God why He chose to take my friend. I didn't think she was ready to go. I still don't. The last time I spoke with her she was making travel plans, hoping to be able to make it to my birthday celebration, planning to go back to work. But God had other plans and I was devastated and disappointed. Yet I know of His omnipotence and I know that I have to trust in His plan.
If January is any indication of what this year is going to be like, I'm in for a ride. Maybe you are, too.