Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Because. . .


How did you get here?
Nobody's supposed to be here
I've tried that love thing for the last time
My heart says no, no!
Nobody's supposed to be here
But you came along and changed my mind

~ Nobody's Supposed to Be Here by Deborah Cox

A brilliant idea comes to her mind early in the morning as she dresses for the day. She is giddy with excitement and anticipation as she reminisces of how their friendship has endured since kindergarten and Sunday School.

Rushing, she makes a mental note of all the places she needs to go to complete her task. Knowing he wants to own a Fiat one day, she finds the perfect model car for him to admire until he can afford the real thing.

They often joke about his belief that Alka-Seltzer cures everything from headaches to broken bones. She laughs out loud thinking of how much he will get a kick out of this particular gift.

As she flounces from one section of the store to the other, she decides to pick up individually wrapped lemonheads in which to pepper his gift basket. She isn't planning on spending a lot of money; just picking up little items with a personal touch. She wants him to delight in the things that bring him joy. Cherries! He loves cherries but often can't afford to buy them. She adds some to her cart.

As she sits and carefully puts together his basket, she beams thinking about how excited he will be when he receives it.

After the work day is over, she surprises him in the lobby where he works. As he exits the elevator in a huff, he notices her standing there.

Bewildered he asks, "What are you doing here?" He seems pleased to see her although he is taken aback.

Thinking out loud he adds, "I keep up with my calendar pretty well. We didn't have anything planned for today. What's the occasion?"

"Oh just because," she says pensively.

Suddenly he notices the basket she is carrying and begins to fiddle around with the contents.

"This is for you," she says as her excitement slowly builds again.

He replies nonchalantly, "oh, cool."

"You don't like it?" she asks.

"I mean, it's cute, some little trinkets you threw together, I see. The toy car is a nice touch but it will just make me mad, reminding me I don't have the real deal," he replies.

Her heart is crushed; her feelings hurt and her spirit disappointed. She just knew he would be pleased she remembered all his favorite things. This wonderful gift she wanted to give him-lovingly personalized and intimate, brushed off with a flippant remark.
When God offers his great and precious gifts with open arms, we often turn our backs on him, ignore him, or tell him to come back at a more convenient time for us.
Can you relate?

you love me, especially different, you keep me, on my feet, happily excited. . .
thank you for loving me Jesus
that's who I'm talking about. . .  
you kept me no no no no never left me
you taught me, you taught me
give me somethings to think about.
Oh thank you for loving me Jesus 
~ He loves me by Kierra "Kiki" Sheard featuring Karen Clark-Sheard

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Possible Public Relations Problem

Did the Holy Spirit tell you to say that?

Because I want to make sure I received it in the same spirit you intended it. 

 Man, I wish I would have thought of that when someone told me my church didn't need any benchwarmers. All I did was admit I wasn't ready for the upcoming revival!  Maybe that was God helping me to practice discretion (click the link to read my struggles with that).
Recently I had a conversation with my female Christian friends regarding the appropriateness of a new reality show, The Sisterhood. The TLC series chronicles the lives and struggles of first ladies; the pastor's wife. 
At first, I found the show to be. . .questionable.  It had the potential to be similar to Sister Wives by providing insight in an often negatively viewed community. On the other hand, it had the potential to be uncouth like Basketball Wives. 
After I viewed approximately three episodes, I decided I liked the show. It had value. It showed Christians being real. I will also like to add that I enjoyed the now defunct GCB on ABC though I found it quite caricature-ish.

             Many Christians have said that neither show should be on the air because they re-enforce negative images already out there about Christians as well as present the church in a bad light.  As we say in my line of work, they feel this show is a potential public relations problem. May I be as bold to say, it is not the television show we should be worried about; it's the (wo)man in the mirror. If you want the church to have a better image ask Jesus to help you change your nasty behaviors. We all have them.
             The best witnessing tool is transparency which comes along with humility. No one has it all together. There are people in the church still dealing with some ugly stuff- joblessness, depression, addiction, marital problems, and debilitating health issues. We can be scandalous, envious, back-biting, cliquish and entitled just like anyone else. If we had it all together, it would be no need for Jesus.
             I don't see how showing humanness is an ineffective witnessing tool. Are we more worried about saving souls or protecting our image? God has the power to reach anyone, anywhere, in anyway He sees fit.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Skyscraping, paper chasing
What are we working for
Empty traditions, reaching social positions
Teaching ambition to support the family superstition
"The Mistery of Iniquity" Lauryn Hill


             Is it just me or does anyone else feel the need to have a full time job, two part time jobs, a business, a family, a position on the deacon/deaconess board, go to Crossfit seven days a week and volunteer at the local food bank just to be Somebody?

             I'm probably the only person who watched BET's first scripted series, Sombodies.  It is based off of an independent film by the same name exploring the lives of current college students, college dropouts, and college graduates all trying to find their place in the world.  I could relate. At that time, I had no idea of what I should be doing with my life. I did know I did not want to continue doing what I was already doing. I felt like I was wasting my degree- not to mention my parent's money.
             Growing up, I always had it together. I set goals for the next twenty years and devised a strategy on how to make it happen. I had an impressive professional network and good connections. I was somebody! But when I came home after college graduation, I was completely void of any motivation or direction. The type of career and lifestyle I thought I wanted no longer appealed to me.
             Meanwhile, the young adults around me were making major moves- getting advanced degrees, starting businesses, traveling abroad, and running for office. I felt guilty for getting ten hours of sleep when one of my close friends only got two. Suddenly, I felt like a nobody because every second of my day was not full of activity.

             But then I started asking myself and my busybody friends, "God may have called you to do all those things but did he say do them all at once?" The bible does say the work is plentiful but the laborers are few.  But it also says Jesus came to give us life and to give it abundantly. How can you enjoy the abundant life when you can't even enjoy a phone conversation with close friends?

             Filling every second of the day with activity doesn't make me somebody- God does.  It is nothing I can do to make myself more valuable other than accept Jesus Christ. This issue has been a struggle for me for sometime but now I know the key is finding a healthy balance. After all, the movie Lean on Me did teach me that "Everybody is Somebody."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Battle of the DNA

From time to time, I invite others to share gleaning moments here at thegleanse. Meet my very good friend, Amber Smith: Intellectual, Wonder Woman, and Cynic. Our friendship developed in Holmes Hall at Clark Atlanta University over a mutual love of The Sims!

             Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have had a challenging couple of years.  My ex and I had a beautiful baby boy.  And the relationship promptly fell apart shortly after.  I struggled with the prospect of being a single mother because that’s not how I was raised.  I have a wonderful father who has always been there for our family physically, financially and emotionally.  I always assumed that when I had children, they would have a similar childhood.  Even though the relationship was crumbling right before my eyes, I still held on tightly and miserably because I wanted my son to have a family.  Long story short, the relationship ended and our dealings with each other have become less frequent.  The conversations we do have are fraught with tension and resentment.

             Because I’m a rookie in the game of motherhood and because I am attempting to raise a black boy who will become a black man, I am terrified.  I always second-guess myself because I can’t fail in raising him; he is my heart, not to mention my legacy.  I wonder if I’m spoiling him, if I’m being too soft.  He mimics the female things that I do, such as putting a scarf on my head, putting my heels on, and putting my purse on my shoulders.  I worry because I am completely unathletic and can’t teach him sports.  Even on a general level, I think about every decision I make and how it’s going to affect him in the long-run; at this moment, I don’t have his other parent to bounce thoughts and ideas off of.

             Besides my fear that I don’t have the ability to raise a boy to a man, I constantly worry about the DNA my son has.  His father was raised with every advantage, but he didn’t have an active father or father figure in his life.  I fear my son will have some of his characteristics: lying, hustling, entitlement.  His father was raised by a single mother who seemingly did everything she could humanly do to raise a responsible, productive member of society, but for whatever reason it has all fallen by the wayside.  (Disclaimer: Some of you may be asking why I was with such a man in the first place, but having a child with someone sometimes shows true colors.  I was blindsided by how quickly he and our relationship deteriorated once our baby arrived.)  I am so afraid the nature will overrule nurture and that when my son is no longer a cute, cuddly barrel of laughs, I will have a financially and emotionally draining manchild to deal with in my golden years.  But for now I will enjoy my little boy for what he is now, not what he may become in the future.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Good Die Mostly Over Bull#

Maybe his life was something
That he had to give to show me
That I need to be responsible about how I live
I won't complain about my pain
But I just ain't gone let my ni**as die in vain
So Bean I'm gone make it for you
The cycle that these young black men keep goin through
I'm gone break it for you
And start takin care of me
And me consist of all my friends and my family
From now on, until I'm gone.
                                        "I Didn't Ask to Come" by Goodie Mob

February 9, 1995

Bang. I awoke to a loud noise. Dazed, I stumbled out of bed and looked out my bedroom window.  I didn't see anything out of the ordinary and my mother's car was in the driveway. As I continued my survey of my surroundings, I peaked in my brothers' room to find it empty but fully lit.  Then, I searched for my middle brother; I found him looking out the back door. "What's going on?" I asked. He assured me it was nothing and led me back to my room. As we passed our parents' room, it appeared my dad's side of the bed was flat. "Where is daddy?" I asked. "He is in the bathroom. I'm sorry mama and daddy." he said as he closed their door. He told me to go back to sleep.

Awhile later, I heard a car pull into the driveway. I looked out the window in time to see my parents exit my mother's car. We all gathered into the dark living room. "Your brother was killed in his apartment in Montgomery." my dad informed me and my brother. God must have been guarding my heart when I thought I had seen all those things.

December 2009

A few of my family members and I traveled to Montgomery, AL to attend the parole board hearing for the person convicted of murdering my older brother. The State of Alabama gave the victim's family the opportunity to speak as well as the convict's family. 

I felt indifferent about the situation. My brother was dead and this wouldn't bring him back. But as   we waited in the victims' room, my indifference had begun to dissipate as I heard the convicts' supporters calling down the heavens on behalf of their loved ones. I'm all for redemption, forgiveness and all that good stuff, but I had no sympathy for them. I wondered whose prayers God would answer.

The convict's sentence was extended by the maximum amount allowed by the law. My nephew who was three months old at the time of his father's death, testified that the convict should stay in jail for as long as he is without his father. And my brother is still dead.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Public Service Announcement

To all my married Christian sisters out there,
Please hear my heart
When you ask me if I'm dating someone and my answer is no
In turn, I ask you if you know anyone
And your response is "Let God be your matchmaker."
Don't ever do that again. Drops the mic 

FYI- My precious computer is down so my posts may not appear as scheduled for awhile.  I'll try to reconnect with you as often as I can find a computer.  Pardon our Progress