Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Matthew 6:25-34 (New International Version - also found in Luke 12:22-32)

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
this is one of my favorite passages in the Bible - especially how verse 34 reads in the King James Version: 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - Still I Rise

Still I Rise - Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - Ego Tripping

EGO Tripping - (there may be a reason why)
by Nikki Giovanni *

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne

drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned

out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can't catch me

For a birthday present when he was three

I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and

I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
jesus
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard

My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal

I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly

like a bird in the sky...

*Nikki Giovanni is an African-American poet and essayist who came to prominence during the civil rights movement of the late 1960s. Born in Tennessee and raised in Ohio, she was educated at Fisk and Columbia universities. In the '60s she joined the Black Arts Movement and became one of the leading poets of the Black Power wing of activists. - accessed 12-2-09 http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/nikkigiovanni.html
...The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Nikki Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. - accessed 12-2-09 http://nikki-giovanni.com/bio.shtml

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - Four Women

Four Women - Nina Simone

My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is wooly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
It’s been inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is aunt sarah
My name is aunt sarah

My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is siffronia
My name is siffronia

My skin is tan
My hair’s alright, it’s fine
My hips invite you
And my lips are like wine
Whose little girl am i?
Well yours if you have some money to buy
What do they call me
My name is sweet thing
My name is sweet thing

My skin is brown
And my manner is tough
I’ll kill the first mother I see
Cos my life has been too rough
I’m awfully bitter these days
Because my parents were slaves
What do they call me
My
Name
Is
Peaches


A link to the song...Thanks Rethabile! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yWOVrwe1Zw&feature=player_embedded

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Two-s Day: Two Perspectives - One situation

Subject: Dear Diary

DOG'S DIARY ENTRIES...
8:00 am Dog food!
My favorite thing!
9:30 am A car ride!
My favorite thing!
9:40 am A walk in the park!
My favorite thing!

10:30 am Got rubbed and petted!
My favorite thing!

12:00 pm Lunch!
My favorite thing!

1:00 pm Played in the yard!
My favorite thing!

3:00 pm Wagged my tail!
My favorite thing!

5:00 pm Milk bones!
My favorite thing!

7:00 pm Got to play ball!
My favorite thing!

8:00 pm Wow! Watched TV with my master!
My favorite thing!

11:00 pm Sleeping on the bed!
My favorite thing!


Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary: Day 683 of my captivity:

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity! There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released --and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded! The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. The captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe....... for now....

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'd rather be quilting... and the concept of Value

You may remember my entry about quilting back in August 2009 http://aclearerday.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html

My friend and instructor thought out loud that journaling about this quilting journey and process might be fun and certainly funny a year from now. So hear goes:

As I've mentioned my friend has tried for over twenty years to get me to quilt. So last year I started and when she and the videos and the books started talking about color value and intensity and shading ...well let's just say my first quilt was black and white! (we'll go into how that wasn't the true escape I'd thought it'd be another day)

So I am starting another piecing project - that's when you design and trace and cut the small pieces that you sew together to make the top (what I use to call the "quilt" - see I'm learning) Actually I use to call "piecing" quilting, but quilting is the small intricate designs you sew onto the top - okay yes I digress.
Back to value - so this new project I am pushing myself toward color. I had some various greens and found a lovely gold fabric for the background and I thought I was set. But what do I learn? that although each fabric was different in color and size of print the Values were too similar - meaning they were all dark and in the same color category (I think that's what it means) . So yesterday my friend pushes me to go to the local quilt shop and talk with the women there.

Well! they were nice but the colors they selected were so different. I mean I know they are experts and they knew exactly what my friend was talking about... but seriously the colors they selected were so pale! They were mostly white backgrounds and believe you me I don't think they "go" at all!

I told my friend this morning and she's laughing at me probably even now. She says to include them and see what happens. okaaay. she says send her a picture of the fabrics so she can see. okaay. and even though I began to see what they each were talking about as they selected fabric and I selected fabric... I'm still contemplating making a name for myself as the black and white quilting queen.! :-/

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - December 2, 2009

PUNCTUATE the sentence below. Do not rearrange the words. Scroll down to see how it tends to shake out.


WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN IS NOTHING



Perspective and experience is an amazing influence on how we understand and interpret our world. It affects how we read, how we internalize. This is an "icebreaker" I've used when I begin a group or bible study. It helps orient people to each other's differences and varying perspectives.


WOMAN! WITHOUT HER, MAN IS NOTHING. (women usually punctuate this way)
WOMAN, WITHOUT HER MAN, IS NOTHING. (men usually punctuate this way)
very in-ter-resting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - If We Must Die - Claude McKay

CONTEXT - Hundreds of writers and artists lived in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s and were part of a vibrant, creative community that found its voice in what came to be called the “Harlem Renaissance.” Alain Locke’s 1925 collection The New Negro—a compilation of literature by and essays about “New Negro” artists and black culture—became a “manifesto” of the movement. Some of black America’s foremost writers contributed stories and poems to the volume. The work of these artists drew upon the African-American experience and expressed a new pride in black racial identity and heritage. Several factors accounted for the birth of the movement and propelled it forward. By 1920 the once white ethnic neighborhood of Harlem in upper Manhattan overflowed with recent African-American migrants from the South and the Caribbean. Black soldiers returning from World War I shared a new sense of pride, militancy, and entitlement, as expressed in Claude McKay’s 1919 protest poem "If We Must Die."



"If We Must Die" - Claude McKay


If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!


Source: Claude McKay, “If We Must Die,” in Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1922).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - November 18, 2009

The Bridge Poem - Donna Kate Rushin

I’ve had enough
I’m sick of seeing and touching
Both sides of things
Sick of being the damn bridge for
everybody

Nobody
Can talk to anybody
Without me
Right?

I explain my mother to my father
My father to my little sister
my brother to the white feminists
the white feminists to the Black church
Folks
the black church folks to the ex-hippies
the ex-hippies to the Black separatists
the Black separatists to the artists
the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then
I’ve got to explain myself
To everybody

I do more translating
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against
The isolation of your self-imposed
limitations

Sick of being the crazy at your holiday
dinners

Sick of being the odd one at your
Sunday brunches

Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34
individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the
world
Find something else to make you
legitimate
Find some other way to be political and
hip

I will not be the bridge to your
womanhood
Your manhood
Your humanness

I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst
self
On behalf of your better selves

I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self

Forget it
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
Mediate
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere
But my true self
And then
I will be useful

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just say "No"

This may be a revelation for many of us - particularly women - but "no" is a complete sentence. However, it is not considered to be by most of us. When we are asked to do something, go somewhere, etc. and our inner voice screams "NO" what we end up saying instead is "well if I didn't have to pick up the kids" or "if I wasn't doing ..." or "well no because..."

These responses and all those like them allow for the requester to interject a solution to the problem we are offering as a reason for our "no". In other words, if it wasn't for the reason, we'd be more than willing to say "yes". So then the persuading begins and generally no one really wins. We end up doing what we don't want to do and the other person gets an unwilling-angry-annoyed participant.

Clearly if we had just said "no" we wouldn't be in this situation. So why don't we just say "no"? There are a vast number of books, theories and opinions on why we don't, so I won't go into them here. Instead, I would like to offer --even if it has to be on a very small scale at first-- that we just say "no".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Perspective

I joined Diet to Go. I haven't told many people, primarily because I don't want any of the negative comments or faces I have experienced on previous attempts to get this weight off. Often I'm sure those who make the coments don't feel they are negative, deflating or unhelpful. "Hmmpf! I don't know why you are dieting, (exercising, controlling your intake) I'd kill to be your size!" Frankly, I've always believed that even if you move from a size two (which I have never been) to a size four (never been that either) you have still gained weight and you still can't get in your clothes and it is (or at least I imagine it is) still uncomfortable and worrisome! So this comment is -believe or not- at the very least negative and certainly not supportive or helpful.

Diet to Go is amazing! It is all freshly prepared -calorie controlled!- food that you pick up twice weekly and is on a five week rotation. Yes, that's right. Nothing is duplicated for FIVE weeks. Personally, when I was trying to figure out and control--portions-calories-fat-sugar-carbs--I often ate the same thing for days in a row. So a five week, calorie controlled rotation is heavenly.

It has been less than three weeks and yet I am amazed at the tension that has been released since joining - no more agonizing over what to eat... is it healthy? ... is there too much sugar-fat-carbs? I sometimes agonized so much that I ended up so hungry that I ate a hefty peanut butter and jelly sandwich AND whatever I was agonizing over!

I have lost TWO pounds in just about three weeks!! YAY!! Truthfully though I was initially disappointed - I felt I was doing so well, eating so right that the pounds should have "melted" off! Two pounds?! Why not five? Ten? I was being so good after all!

But then my rational side kicked in and I considered the two pound lost from a different perspective. I calculated that at the rate of two pounds a month, I'd be down 12-14 pounds by Spring. Not bad right? Certainly better than staying the same weight (ugh!) and definitely better than gaining (horror of horrors!). I considered these things also:




  • Ten pounds is a dress size up or down.


  • Ten pounds makes a difference in a diagnosis for diabetes (please no!)


  • Ten pounds will make me really proud and motivated.


  • There is no way to get to ten pounds lost without first achieving two pounds lost.
So clearly no more disappointment in slow progress, just pure delight in any progress at all. I am pleased and motivated. I am Woman. Hear me ROAR!* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBnxqEVKlk
* I am Woman - sung and written by Helen Reddy. It was first released by Capitol Records in late 1970 as an album track on Helen Reddy's first album. It was what they call a 'sleeper' in the music industry. In other words, it sat on the album doing nothing for 2 years and then as the women's liberation movement gathered momentum, Capitol Records released it as a single. The women's liberation movement then adopted it as their anthem and the rest is history. (courtesy of songfacts.com)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - November 11, 2009

IF - Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head, when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster A
nd treat these two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: `Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

I'm sure if Rudyard was alive today he'd include women in this! So let's forgive him his sexism just this once.
;-D
My dear SNL introduced me to this poem this year. It has become one of my favorites.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - November 4, 2009


For when two beings who are not friends are near each other there is no meeting, and when friends are far apart there is no separation. ~ Simone Weil


This Wiser on Wednesday submission was suggested by my dear brother-friend Toby D. Sanders.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - Our Deepest Fear - Marianne Williamson

Our Deepest Fear - Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,our presence automatically liberates others.

Nelson Mandela who quoted this poem in his inaugural address on May 10,1994. It was made most popular when it was used in two recent movies Coach Carter [2005]
and Akeelah and the Bee [2006] .
I began a counted cross stitch with this poem for my first grandson soon after he was born [hopefully I will finish it before his fourth birthday-which is soon! yikes!! or at least before he can actually read it! :-o ]

This widely acclaimed poem is actually not a poem at all, but an excerpt from A Return To Love, a book by motivational speaker and author Marianne Williamson. The passage has such inspirational power that it is now a stand-alone mantra for a generation of exceptional individuals who wish to motivate themselves and others to live up to their fullest potential.The words "deepest" is often replaced with "greatest" in reprints of the passage, although the original uses "deepest", as seen below. "Our Deepest Fear", as it is best known, is a cultural phenomenon as it is quickly becoming one of today's most well known sagacious quotes from an author who is still living. (accessed October 15, 2009 http://www.squidoo.com/our_deepest_fear)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - October 21, 2009

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE CHAPTERS
Portia Nelson

1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in.
I am lost...I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
5
I walk down another street
This poem continues to teach me about my choices and being responsible for them. (staying in Chapter Five is harder than it seems. Chapter Five can be quite elusive!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting on my nerves...

...literally!

Like many of us I don't know where many of our little sayings come from. Such as a "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" (never lived on a farm and don't know any live chickens) or "still water runs deep"(don't live near any water to speak of still or otherwise) or "you never miss your water until the well runs dry" (no wells either) - you get my point... this is also true of the saying: "getting on my nerves". I thought it was a general kind of thing, a slang phrased used when someone/something was really annoying...( it is, but that isn't my point.)

I thought this right up until the middle of September this year when I ended up with Shingles. I didn't know what was the matter at first but the itchy, burn-y, pull-y feeling made me know I needed to see a doctor. He told me that Shingles were induced by stress. Seriously? So what do you mean exactly?

Me - I shouldn't have stress? I should manage it better? I'm physically sick?

Doctor - yes

The doctor went on to instruct that I take medicine three times daily for the next seven days and that I should rest, rest, rest. He also mentioned/emphasized that Shingles were "very, very painful". Actually he said that more than once, more than twice -maybe like four or five times. (When a doctor speaks in excess we should all worry! and he was right ...they were painful and really itchy too.)

So of course I'm thinking about my life and yes the previous week had been awful with my work life threatened and my ministry life in shambles - yes I could honestly say that I'd been stressed! but I've been stressed before, right? What was so different? I didn't think this time was worst than any other time...I mean really...on my nerves like that? who knew!?!

Once I made myself share and not be embarrased I learned that my case wasn't as bad as others. But the most important thing I learned is/was that I get this prickly feeling when I'm getting stressed. I've now noticed that sometimes, "the prickles" - (which is what I call this new, weird feeling that I get in my skin ) are the only indicator that I am even feeling stressed!

So the way I see it now...I have been duly warned by my body and I am determined to pay closer attention!








Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wiser on Wednesday - October 14, 2009

DESIDERATA
Max Ehrmann

(in the 1920s not "Found in Old St. Paul's Church"!)

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.


As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.


If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.


Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.


Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.


Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.


Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


This poem had a profound affect on me when I first saw it written on the side walls of a covered stairway leading to one of the dorms at Syracuse University. I carried a copy with me for years and when I couldn't find it one day, hand copied it from a friend's wall hanging (no Google - really there was a time! ;-) and eventually counted cross stitched it in order to always have it. Stitching it was wonderful (! ) as it was a way to recite it and memorize it and internalize it. Each row took about an hour or more to complete. It is the first piece that I ever charted and I cherish it as much for the work womanship as for the poem itself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My 15 minutes of fame! -

On Page 6 of the "Mid-Atlantic Regional Connection" a newsletter for the Mocha Moms, Inc. I am mentioned ---alongside my daughter---for participating in a public awareness event for Infant Mortality. I am excited to have participated and to have been acknowledged as a Mocha "Mom-Mom" (smile). Thanks Daughter and Mochas for including me!


THE BACK STORY


Lately I have been trying to "find myself" as this stage of life is commonly called. Frankly I know exactly where I am! I am a very educated, talented, smart, funny African American woman of a "certain age" trying to make this time of life meaningful. It is not lost on me that people (my children) are watching how I handle and navigate this.

So one day my DD shoots me an email suggesting that I might be interested in a public awareness project on Infant Mortality. Certainly I thought, I could easily make the 10 hats requested and hopefully before I left on vacation. But as I was packing I decided to take yarn with me "just in case I had a moment". Well we know flying is about waiting these days and I had plenty of time!
So my project went from making ten hats to "how many can I get made before the mailing deadline?" My DD says I was getting obsessed clearly she's right because I had to make myself stop at 70!



THE NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

Chapter Spotlights
Mocha Grandmother "Hats Off"

Almost 2 months ago Southern DC Mocha Claudia Booker sent out a Mocha SOS for the "Heads Up on Infant Mortality Public Awareness Project" for Wash-ington DC. She asked Mochas to knit or crochet in-fant hats. These hats would be given to the local hos-pital NICU’s. Mocha Claudia posted the request on the Yahoo Group to get the word out. [One Mocha] shared the request with her mother in [another state]...Last week Mocha Claudia received 70 beautiful infant hats ... As an added bonus, this Mocha Grandmother has decided to help head this project for the NICU babies in [her home state]! "HATS OFF" to Mocha Claudia for serving the "Head’s Up" project from the heart, to [our] Mocha for sharing her mom, [and ] for [her mom for] being [such] an angel for the NICU babies!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nap Time...?

Last weekend I was tired! The kind of tired that you can't see or think straight. The kind of tired that makes you so loopy and out of it that you can't image why people do drugs, thus rendering themselves this way on purpose! Yes I was that tired! but I had stuff to do. The kind of stuff-to- do that has already gone undone for days ( who am I kidding - weeks) and must get done now. The kind of stuff-to-do that if it goes undone one more day it will make the impending week worst than the week past--which I might add--was bad enough!

Needing a nap made me remember how much I hated it when my mother sent me and my sisters upstairs, to our rooms to nap. No matter how we protested - no matter the logic ...she had an answer - they went something like this:

Me (or one of my sisters): None of my friends take naps!
Mommy: Well I'm not your friends' mother

Me (or one of my sisters): I'm not tired.
Mommy: then just lay there quietly;

Or my personal favorite - you don't have to go to sleep - seriously?

But like or not last weekend the overriding reality was that I needed a nap or more specifically someone (MOMMY!) to make me take one! And so I found myself longing for my mother to take over ; to shuffle me off to bed no matter my logic (but I have stuff-to-do) or protests (but who else will do it?) and MAKE me take a nap!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'd rather be... QUILTING!!!

I have a friend of over twenty years who has been quilting for even longer than that! Over the years she has tried to entice me to take up quilting to no avail. It looked too tedious and time consuming. I was content with crocheting, counted cross stitch and sewing (by the way they are also quite tedious and time consuming...perspective is the key factor here)

A year and a half ago my friend retired and moved to Florida. As she began giving away things and packing and it became real that she was leaving I decided to take up quilting. Now it wasn't that clear of a decision at the time but looking back I guess it was a way to keep us close, to give us something to aways talk about (and to really keep her from going!)

the first attempt was a mess. I chose a pattern with curves, didn't know about marking each piece (now I remember why I never wanted to do it) and threw all the cloth and pieces in a bag!

My friend who even after twenty years really wanted me to quilt carved out time for lessons when I came down to visit (yes I brought all the fabric and needles and everything). We took our time to chose a pattern and she showed me how to make a template that included the sewing line so I wouldn't have to mark each piece after was cut. (that's the tedious part) Before I left her house I had two completed blocks!
I have found that I absolutely LOVE hand piecing. It gives me something to do (and something to show for my time) while I wait (I hate waiting). Between talking to my friend and clicking around on the Internet I have learned a lot about the quilting process. (for example the red lines in between are called "sashing"; piecing is what prairie women did as a "break" from canning; and no self respecting woman of that time would be caught without a top to quilt during the long winters!)

As life would have it I put the quilt down for a while. I had put the pieces and then the rows together and it had gotten too big to carry and pull out wherever I went. By the time I got home most nights pulling it out didn't seem wise and so it sat...month after month. I made a vow this pass spring ...the quilt top would be completed by the end of the summer... Ta DAH! it is TA DONE!!

My first quilt top is below. I am so pleased! Let me know what you think...


My first quilt top!! August 2009 YAY!!!
Another thing I've learned..this is just the "top". I have to put the "layers" together (top-batting-backing) and then the actual quilting is a whole 'nother process. I'll keep you posted on my progress...but for now we'll rejoice in this stage of it. YAY!! YIPPPEEE!









Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In All that You Are - Antone Oliveira Fonseca

In All that You Are - Antone Oliveira Fonseca



In all that you are
There are no untruths;
For you speak with the rare trust
Of a longtime sister as the warmful
Ease with which you listen makes me
Long less for home. Truth is only that
Which is real to one, as you are real to
Me.

In all that you are
There is much wonder;
For as the beauty of the wave is as
Uncertain as the sea itself, then so
Is the beauty of your mind. And as the
Beachcomber searches for the wave’s perfect
Then so do I search for your concreteness. Won-
Der is only that which complements the presence of
Desire, as you complement me.

In all that you are
There lacks little strength;
Looking at your whole petiteness I see
The ounce of black fold which reveals all
Of your strong womanhood. There are no words
To describe the vibration you lend to the thought
Of life. And as each second builds strength in the
Year, then so do you build strength in me.

In all that you are
There is genuine beauty;
All that you are is beauty and as the
Seasons change then so do the shades of
Your beauty, when you frown, smile, and open
Your eyes wide to laugh. Your beauty is insepar-
Able with self as it is your nature to be such. As
The night is the enhancer of the star’s beauty then
So does the world’s impurity enhance you.

In all that you are
There is great innocence;
For you draw from life only that
Which is yours as I find life guilty
Of your misgivings. And in the space
Where there lies no guilt there lies the
Whole goodness which flows from your heart
With each pulsation. As I watch you walk I can
Not help but love you more with each step for just
Being. Innocence is that which refines guilt as you
Have taught me much.

In all that you are
There is innocence, beauty, strength, wonder,
Truth, Wisdom, happiness, sadness, love,
Peace, generosity, tenderness, ambition, hope,
Compassion, purity, freshness and so much much
More.

In all that you are
There is
A deeply
Beautiful
Life pulsating
Freedom.

You are a mountain
Climb yourself,
And let no one drag you down…

(especiallyforrjr – 4/20/1973)

Sunshine - Antone Oliveira Fonseca

Sunshine
Antone Oliveira Fonseca


Your beauty I only witness in my
most pleasant dreams by day
For your freshness cannot be imagined
by night

The warmth you radiate is as the swift
but ever so gentle rays of the sun
For I’ve never really met you but know
you enough to depend on seeing you and
feeling you

You not realizing how much I appreciate
your existence. And me, wishing for the
Day when you will shine only for me

Oh, why should I worry myself
there are many fish in the sea
Funny though, I do not feel like a fisherman
tonight…I did not last night…nor the
night before that…

Come to me shining one
And spill yourself
Over my troubled
Mind.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remember the Time...

Did you hear? Michael Jackson died...Hey ...is it true? Is Michael Jackson dead? NO! what do you mean? Who said? I can't believe that's why I'm standing by this radio-tv-phone.

This was in some part the conversation throughout Philly within minutes of the announcement that Michael Jackson had died. When I heard, I said "NO!" NO! NO!" and the person sharing the news just nodded. We all felt the lost. I am sadder than I thought I'd be about the lost of someone I've never met face-to-face. But then again, Truly I grew up with Michael.

Remember the time - when he was the first African American to have a video (Billie Jean in 1983) on MTV? (Until Michael did any of us really watch MTV??? even with the controversy and MTV's crazy attempts to justify why--other than racism--they excluded African American artists)

Remember the time - when Michael Jackson was the first to use the music video as an art form. Changing it from watching your favorite artist sway to their own music to a theatre quality production?

Remember the time - when Michael Jackson gathered together every celebrity possible to create the "We are the World" song and video?

Remember the time - when no matter how we--they--tried no one, truly no one could moon-walk like Michael?

Michael is truly the king, not just of pop, but of his craft... Every song and every video that we know him for was his own creation. His art. His genius.

But my baby sister [CR] is right, how sad for him to die not only so young but so unhappy! Michael Jackson crossed cultures and continents; had people screaming his name and singing his tunes in a multitude of languages; sold out concerts the world over...and yet, he was clearly the most unhappy celebrity I have ever paid attention to!

How amazingly untimely and unfortunate that he died before he could be okay with himself, his life and his God. How horrible to have influenced decades of music, millions of lives and numerous careers, to have so many people feel so connected to you... and yet feel so alone and unhappy
...there are so many lessons here I'm reluctant to start the list. But let me point out two:

- Money doesn't automatically make for a happy life
- and we'd better spend time focusing on what will.

I do not want to die, but if I must, I certainly do not want to die young...I guess theres no real danger there ;-/ ...and unhappy. I am making my "to-do-to-make-me-happier-list" right now!

Michael Jackson - I'm sorry you are gone...I am grateful you were here.

Please, Michael... Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things you might not know I like

1- trees (actual trees, pictures of trees)
2- hot air balloons (the colors; shapes; the possibilties)
3- daylight savings time
4- driving on open highway on a warm, sunny day

5- sunrises-sunsets (actual sunrises/sunsets, pictures of them - if you add trees to the mix then I'm really pleased!)

6- the shore/ocean
7- reading

8- needlework (counted cross stitch; sewing, crocheting; quilting -I really love it )

9- pictures of a little girl and boy (it makes me think of my son & daugther)

10- rice
11- bread
12- chocoloate

13- ice cream (now chocolate ice cream is the best of both worlds! and if you add nuts I'm in heaven!)

14 - warm breezes on my skin
15- the sound a lit match makes when it has been thrown into water
16- learning things - just about anything
17- gadgets/technology

18- plants (you probably knew this already); (truly its the leaves -the many shapes, sizes and ways that new ones appear; and the various shades of green and of course the shades of red!)

19- Hugging ( hugging and being hugged - kisses too :-D )

20- seeing men with their children

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Designated

CONTEXT - Below is a sermon written for the Sunday evening Service of Broad Street ministry(BSM). BSM is a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and is housed in the church building of a congregation that was dissolved approximately 8-10 years ago. BSM grew faster than anyone anticipated and it became clear that deacons might be necessary to reach out to those who were experiencing regular life traumas (loss of loved ones -death, divorce or decision; illness; hospitalizations - you get the point) For approximately ten months I worked with several people who were "designated" as having the natural gifts of caring, support and encouragement. May 31, 2009 the day of Pentecost was "designated" as the day for installation. I created and led the service and preached the following sermon.

DESIGNATED

Last week my three year old grandson was screaming and crying so loud that my daughter had to stop the car and let him call and talk to me. You see they had just left my house and they were on their way home. When he was at my house he asked me at the doorway to each bed room “is this your room?” thinking nothing of it I told him yes, and eventually he learned that all the rooms were “mine”. As he put it “All the room is Noni’s! All the rooms.” Somewhere between that event and the time to leave he had decided that I was alone, that I had no friends and most importantly that he, his brother and parents should not leave me! In his mind it was clear that his “Noni” should not be alone. His message to me and his parents was so simple and so clear that I was really too mushy to tell him that Jesus left the disciples but provided the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!

It is significant to me that this incident about being alone and leaving and being cared for occurred the week before Pentecost. From the gospel lessons we learn that Jesus had to go…that his time on earth was done…he had been crucified…he had risen from the dead…he had hung around talking to folks and handing out final instructions and such… and now it is just time to go. So while I don’t envision the disciples screaming and crying like Christopher, they still did not want Jesus to leave them. In response Jesus provides the disciples with the Holy Spirit to fulfill his promise to never leave them or us alone. From the beginning God saw that it was not good for humans to be alone and created one for the other. In Acts the gathering in Jerusalem occurs fifty days after the crucifixion of Jesus. It is important for a number of reasons one being that this is when the Holy Spirit was given to us; to protect us from aloneness and to unite diverse people in a community with Christ at the center. Before I go further let me give you a little information about Pentecost.

  • Pentecost means fifty and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.
  • Pentecost is the only holy day that must be counted to determine the date of celebration. And there is this whole discussion about which event or day you start to count from. I am so not getting into that! So on to some other facts.
  • Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Pentecost is as important as Christmas and Easter but it doesn’t have secular activities and celebrations tied to it.

The Acts text is full of imagery and lots of points of discussion and even debate. However, for me there is much in the text that points to the importance of us being together… supporting, encouraging one another despite our differences, despite the fact that we experience God in different ways or hear God in different languages.

As someone who follows the lectionary, I can tell you that there were two significant passages designated for today. At first glance though, the passage from Ezekiel did not seem to fit. But the more I pondered the two I saw that the juxtaposition allows us to see in not only both passages, but in our lives that God provides a way for dry bones to put on flesh. It happened here when God took the dry bones of Chambers Wylie Presbyterian Church put flesh on them and transformed them into Broad Street Ministry. In the Acts passage we see that God provided a way for the disciples—sad, shaken and caught in the grip of fear—to be bold in the spirit.
Being alone in the world is problematic. I’m not talking about alone time or solitude. Alone time or solitude is another issue. Alone time or solitude is something we crave when we are very busy, when lots of people are all around us and our responsibilities overwhelm us. But being truly alone with no one, any one to wonder how we are and what we are doing is unwise and unhealthy and is not what God wants for creation.

And so God designated the Holy Spirit to be present for us. And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the church becomes what she should be in this day and time.
In Acts we are witnessing the beginning of the church, the bare bones of the church so to speak. Now the church has grown and it needs more flesh… some structure… some polity. The church now needs to organize in a way, such that we can clearly and continually make space for the gifts of the spirit in every facet of the church. And so as we grow and make space for all, some tasks become assigned. Some tasks become designated. But this does not mean that these are the only persons who can and must perform these tasks. Becoming designated to be the pastor, or an elder or a bishop or a deacon, does not deny what Calvin lifted up as the priesthood of all believers to serve and glorify God together through their gifts. Becoming designated does not let the rest of us off the hook.

And so on this day I am thankful for the movement of the spirit. I am thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit in those women and men of God who prayed that this not be the end of their witness in this space. Who had faith in spite of evidence to the contrary that “divided tongues as of fire”[1] would appear and would rest on this place and fill it once again with the power of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for each of the men and women who began this journey way back in September. I thank God for those who planned and prayed and participated. I am grateful also that God continues to move and brought together women and men from all walks of life to minister to the community here. So in the spirit of gratitude I call up E__, H __, A__ and C__ so we can recognize what God has done and is doing on this day of Pentecost.

Amen.

[1] Acts 2:3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

Designated Text: Acts 2:1-8 Preached May 31, 2009 Broad Street Ministry - Philadelphia, PA

Friday, April 10, 2009

A New Family - John 19:26-27

The second word is taken from the gospel according to John chapter 19 verses 26-27 which reads:
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. "
This is the word of the Lord
Although we’ve chosen verses twenty six and twenty seven on which to take the word going a ways back in the text to verse sixteen we learn that much has happened. The soldiers have taken charge of Jesus, Jesus has carried his own cross; he has been nailed to this very same cross and placed between two criminals. The soldiers are placing bets and dividing his clothes.

On the cross and in the midst of his own personal agony; Jesus sees his mother and his beloved disciple grieving for him and becomes concerned for them. Jesus says “Woman here is your son”, looks toward the disciple, and says, “Here is your mother”. In assigning his mother and his friend to one another, Jesus is backing up what he said earlier in John chapter 13 verses 34-35[1] “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”[2]
Jesus is providing each of them with a new family. He is assigning them to love each other and to care for each other. He knows that they will need each other as they grieve the lost of him. He knows that they will need to share memories with each other.

But let me pause a minute to ask … didn’t Jesus think that his mother and his friend would see about each other? Didn’t he think that their love for him would automatically transfer into love for each other? I don’t know. However, let’s look at ourselves for some insight. Many of us have friends who have other friends that we don’t know or if we know them, we don’t like really like them. We may have wondered how our wonderful friend ––let’s call her Rose–– could spend time with someone like Lisa. We are puzzled, you don’t like Lisa but we sure love Rose. You think to yourself …How can this be? Yet even without an answer, we know one thing for sure… there is no automatic love for Lisa just because we already love Rose. Our love for the friend we have in common ––Rose–– does not automatically transfer to Lisa or to us.

Many of us here love Jesus. However, can we say that our love for Jesus automatically transfers to all those that Jesus loves? If we are honest, we must answer “no”. We don’t automatically love anyone. We have family members that are on the other side of the country. We don’t automatically love them. We have neighbors that live on the other side of the street and church members that sit on the other side of the church. We don’t automatically love them. There is nothing automatic about love.

From the cross Jesus knows this and from the cross Jesus became concerned. He wants his mother and his friend to take care of each other. He is assigning them a task to complete because of their love for him. The task? To love each other; To care for each other; To love each other because they love him. He is saying “I know you love me and I love you. Now I want you to love each other.” “Woman” Jesus says to his mother “allow my friend to be your son (now)”. To the beloved disciple he says, "Allow my mother to be your mother (now)”.

Jesus says this to us as well. He wants the children of the church to view the adults as their parents and he wants the adults to view the children as our own sons and daughters. He wants us to love those that he loves. Jesus is creating a new family – one -family that is not bound by blood or culture. A family that is related and connected to each other through their love of Jesus... Not a nuclear family that separates by blood…. Not a cultural family that separates by culture, race or ethnicity… Not a denominational family that would separate us by creeds, confessions and biblical interpretation. NO! Jesus is creating a new family! A family that is not separated by class or culture, gender, race or blood, social economic status or sexual orientation. Jesus is creating a new family that is not separated at all! Jesus creates a new family which is bound and connected to each other by their love of God and of Jesus the Son who allowed himself to be crucified so that we would be saved from our sins. In every way possible Jesus’ ministry demonstrates what he tells us if we love Jesus , then we must love each other[3].

Jesus has created a new family from the cross! Jesus shows us that in Christ we are not just new creatures we are a new family as well.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


[1] John 13:34-35 - 4I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
[2] The New Interpreter’s Bible – John p. 499
[3] John 19:34-35

“A New Family”
Good Friday Meditation - Berean Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Sermonic Text: John 19:26-27 April 10, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

DIRECT HIT or Never too old...


video


A co-worker sent this to me today and I decided that I always wanted to have access to it!

This woman reminds me that it is so nice to be old enough; big, bold and bad enough to set someone straight and keep it moving!


so Happy Birthday to me! I'm not too old! Just old enough not to be thrown off my game! LOL!


Below are the instructions that came with the video:


Sound on...make sure you look at guy in car at end. Don't think because you get old you aren't with it!!A lady was video taping her son riding a skate board when her attention switched to an old woman trying to cross the street. It is the best "direct hit" I have seen. You can hear the lady who is doing the taping giggling as she records the event. Open the attachment. It's a quickone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Press on! Press Through!

One of the things that scholars do when they read the Bible is ask questions. Many of the questions address the societal rules of Biblical times. This is an important thing to consider when we read, as it helps us better appreciate the impact of passages and how radical Jesus was and why the leadership reacted against him so strongly.

Some of these rules and certainly the radical nature of Jesus’ ministry runs through the passage I’ve selected for tonight. In biblical times women did not go pressing though crowds. Actually women did not gather in the same space as men and they certainly did not touch men particularly rabbis.
And if their “issue of blood” meant they were menstruating, then they certainly weren’t out because this meant they were unclean and they were to be removed from the group until they had a ritual cleansing and waited seven days after that.

Tonight’s passage generates a lot of questions and discussion much of which fascinates me. Some questions that jump immediately to mind are: was she unclean; had she been ostracized all those years; and the question I’d like to add to the mix is why does Jesus only feel her touch and no one elses? He was in a crowds after all. Can’t we think that others had illnesses, pains and disease?
The discussions also consider: what the bleeding was; why she couldn’t be cured; did the doctors con her or were they just baffled. All three gospels tell this story – they are parallel passages. Luke’s account seems kinder to the doctors and Matthew’s is sketchy on the details.

I am also fascinated by the challenge that women commentators add to the discussion. One important question they ask is: why have we made the assumption that the bleeding was menstrual ? Mark says the illness made her bleed. The others say she hemorrhaged. Women can’t bleed elsewhere? From the nose perhaps? Of course, if she were bleeding from nose or some other place, then all the discussion about purity codes, being considered unclean, marginalized and ostracized won’t fit. But I ask you if she wasn’t unclean and hadn’t been ostracized does this make her decision to press through the crowd less bold? Less dramatic?
The gospels tell us that the bleeding stopped when she touched Jesus and many of us focus on this healing... tonight though I want to point out that Jesus squarely places the focus on her faith.
Jesus’ acknowledgement of The woman’s faith in pressing through the crowd to touch his garment resembles very much when Jesus acknowledges the faith of the friends who pressed through to bring the paralytic to Jesus in earlier in Mark[1]. In both stories it was the faith, the pressing through that Jesus recognized and acknowledged, the healing was almost an afterthought.

I stop here to tell you what I am not saying. I am not saying that more faith equals more healing or even that faith is what will get you healed. And I am also not saying that less faith equals no healing either. What I am saying is that in this passage and elsewhere in the Bible what I see Jesus emphasizing is the faith and not so much what happens because of it.
Possibly then and certainly now, we humans want answers. We want to believe and receive. We want to decide how things should go and we want things clear and neat.
But life is not like this. We all know of wicked people living good lives and of good people living difficult lives and every combination in between.
Much like this woman we have torments and trials. We each have hearts with unaddressed desires. We also have waited. We also have paid and we also have prayed without ceasing only to look up and see another day pass without what we request.
Yet throughout the Bible we have evidence that we do not always receive our answers when we would like and in the manner we would like. I can say with some certainty that Abraham was likely more than a little puzzled as the years passed and he and Sarah still did not have an heir. The Bible tells us that the Israelites had been crying out for decades, before Moses was sent to lead them out of Egypt.
But truly we don’t even have to look back that far because many of us right here and right now have long histories of suffering from which we seek relief. Each of us I believe has something we want and need to be different, better, relieved, fixed, acknowledged, improved, healed.
We focus on the relief, the healing because that is what we need and that is what we want. Certainly,.we do. I do. But to me in this passage and others the focus is faith.

The focus is faith when we read in Hebrews chapter eleven about the great cloud of witnesses who are commended for their faith but did not receive in their lifetime what was promised.[2]
The focus is faith when we consider that in the 1800s Jarena Lee, the first African American female preacher in the AME church, walked 28 thousand miles to preach between Cape May and Canada. She was beaten and ignored... but pressed on.
The focus is faith when, even though Fannie Lou Hamer[3] was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” ...she pressed on.
The focus is faith when despite being in the midst of extreme poverty and plagued with her own questions and doubts Mother Teresa... pressed on.
The focus is faith when Coretta Scott King after the assassination of her husband... pressed on.
The focus is faith when any of us in the midst our struggles, presses on.

I do not know why so many suffer. I don’t know why any of us suffer. This will be one of the questions on my list to present to God when we meet. What I do know, what I have experienced, what is evident to me in the text and in a life lived long enough to look back, is that Jesus honors our faith however small. I believe there is a God. One who has revealed through Jesus. Some days like some of you my faith is large and some days like some of you it is just enough to press on. But this I know. This I believe. Jesus loves us.
I’m going to sum up what I’ve said by changing the words to a children’s Sunday School Song. And no I’m not singing it.

Jesus loves you this I know
Because my life has showed me so
Jesus loves you I cannot say
Why all suffering does not go away
Jesus loves this is true
Your faith is honored press on, press through!

Amen!

[1] Mark 2:5
[2] Hebrews 11:39-40 “Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
[3] American voting rights activist and civil rights leader

Preached - 6PM March 22, 2009 Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia, PA
Sermonic Text: Mark 5: 25-34

Friday, March 6, 2009

YAY!!! It's March!

I'm really glad it's March. Yes I'm glad for all the obvious reasons --winter is almost over; spring is around the corner; Repeat's birthday is in two weeks ...so is mine for that matter--these are all good reasons for me to be joyful that it is now the month of March. However, I have another reason to be glad it's March. ...I'm glad it's March because it means I've survived February! Whew!!! every year February is truly a mine field. a danger zone. the longest most hateful month of my life to that point. February taunts me. Eighty percent of the traumatic events of my life occurred in February (or some high percentage... do we really keep track!?)

I remember some years ago mentioning this to a friend of mine who was deep, deep, deep into astrology. She told me that 45-60 days before your birthday is an extremely tumultuous time....from the womb forward. In the womb she stated, the most growth and change is happening during those days and this growth-change cycle is repeated in our lives. Makes sense I suppose.

This year I kinda forgot about all this. In January I cautioned myself and then February hit. I was consumed with dissatisfaction. I complained and screamed out. Every morning (and I do mean every morning) I had to talk myself out of quitting my job. Seriously? What intelligent self respecting, don't-have-a-rich-uncle or a sugar daddy woman would do such a thing?! Yet there I was daily praying myself out of being stupid!

Now don't get me wrong. I do need to find another job. One that is fulfilling and meaningful and uses my skills and education. But I do not need to leave the one job I have before I find this meaningful, soul-stirring other job!

Even as the days and weeks marched toward March, I worried about being depressed. What was wrong with me? I promised myself that if it didn't stop soon I'd make an appointment with a counselor of some sort. Until then, I fell asleep each night promising myself to be more positive, to get through the next day without burdening family and friends with my anguish.

Sunday ( March 1st) I woke up and I felt better. Weird because I felt a LOT better! I made it through two conversations without maligning my job. (let's not completely overlook the fact that my daughter and a friend found two jobs that might be great for me!)
I'm happier. Monday I took a SNOW DAY!!! and got so much done I was a little scared of myself! The sun is higher in the sky ...the days are longer ( don''t forget to SPRING forward on Sunday March 8th), the forever lasting month of February is over!

I'm sure some of you may be thinking that I am possibly a victim of Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) ...possibly...but for now I am pass the Season of February and I am sooooooooooo glad!

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Cusp

Generally "on the cusp" is a phrase used in astrology to signify a person born between two signs - the shared date of one astrological sign ending and another beginning. But lately I've been feeling very "on the cusp" in another way. I'm beginning to realize that there is a certain amount of schizophrenia among those of us who were born at a time when women were insisting that their roles change.

I was born on the edge, on the cusp of roles changing from hubby and housework; babies and bath water and to hubby, corporate work, babies ( maybe) and housework (well only if we couldn't get someone else to do it!)

I think this has not only affected me but many others near my age. What side of the cusp did you fall on? and can we relate to people who fell on , stayed on, never-considered-moving-from the other side? There are people my age who can't email, text, enter numbers in their cell. And then there are people who understand that women can choose, chase, chance.

The way I see it being on the cusp has made me flexible and open ( well at least to most things). I've kinda had to be. The times they were so a'changing when I was coming up and yet I noticed one day that I just won't order my coffee in the new language. I just won't. I finally know which is which when asked Venti, Grande, Tall ( what? they ran out of a foreign word for "small"?!)
But I'm just not doing it! When I want a Large that is what I'll ask for. Large medium, small... size differentiations that have not changed for centuries. But even as I write it does it make me sound old? inflexible? Is it rigid to draw the line somewhere? Gees...even if I do submit to a Venti Verona with room for cream, I can only order that in one place. The other places call it something else. So isn't it best to keep it the same? Small Medium Large. Everyone knows what that is. Everyone knows what you mean. Okay so that's it! That's my line! I may have changed from floppy disk to flashdrive; I may now email instead of snail mail; text instead of type; blog instead of journal... but I will not ask for a Venti. I will not!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Anger

This morning I invite you into a discussion of Anger. I decided that we need to begin an exploration on this topic when I noticed that many people do not seem to realize that just because we love Jesus doesn’t mean we automatically know how to love each other
I know that we would all agreed that the commandment from Jesus recorded in John chapter 15 verse 12 that, we love one another he has loved us is a wonderful concept. It sounds fine on paper and seems to work well right up until we actually meet one another. Then we find that what works in theory is quite difficult to put in practice. Yet we know that we are to figure it out because we have been commanded to…but how?How do we figure it out? How does it actually work out in our everyday lives? What is the balance? What is a healthy expression of anger in the church community?

These are some excellent questions that we as a Christian community must explore together. We must learn how to be angry how to hate the sin but not the sinner; To stop the wrongdoing without murdering the wrongdoer. I could go on but let me stop and tell you something you already know…This topic is huge! There are many different areas and avenues to travel. We have the notion of righteous or compassionate anger that is often necessary for Christians to “proclaim release to the captives” and “let the oppressed go free”[1]

But I’ve decided against addressing that today. That would be too easy. And would not get us to working on the hard parts – you know how we always had to eat our greens first. Supposedly made us appreciate the tastier parts of the dinner. We have whether or not we can be angry...yes I’m going to discuss that. We have whether or not anger is bad ...Yes I’m going to address that. Whether or not anger is dangerous ...yes I’m addressing that and I am even going to touch on how to handle anger. But at another time on another day I am going to come back to this topic again. Amen?


So let’s get started. Much of what I read about anger started off with some sort of acknowledgement that anger exists. In some of these same books several chapters were written before they even got into what anger was exactly. By the time I stopped myself from pulling books off the shelf I had fifteen books ranging from Anger as a spiritual ally to one entitled It’s the Little Things which explored the everyday interactions that anger and divide the races. And believe me there were plenty more books left on that shelf !!! Other books had extensive chapters on why people get angry,how to control it, if it is good or bad. There was One book in the anger section about forgiveness and even though this book had several chapters on anger for a minute I thought it was on the wrong shelf then I thought I guess if you are struggling with the need to forgive then you must be angry about something

One of my favorites however was the book that included an Anger Inventory. Twenty–five questions that you rated on a scale from zero which meant you would feel very little or no annoyance to four which meant that you would feel very angry. At the end you added the numbers and depending on where you ended up you were either remarkably low on the anger scale and were told that you were among an extremely select few or you were unbelievably high on the anger scale and only a few percent of the adult population reacted as intensely as this about anything!From this I decided that most of us fell somewhere in between.I figured that we were in the average to substantially more than average range. Not extremely peaceful but not a raving lunatic either! But despite the fact that I learned that most of us fell in the range of “normal” I still believe that many of us are not happy during those times when our anger skyrockets out of control or we when find ourselves puzzled by our reactions to things that should fall in the “little to no annoyance” category. So before I go further let’s decide on a common definition of anger. Let’s agree on a few things that none of us needs to read a book to know. Anger is a fact of life. Anger is human. Anger is an emotion and a very powerful one.
I will add that in many instances Anger frightens us or should I correct and say the inappropriate display of anger...The blind rage ...the lack of control...our own and someone else’s frightens us.
I will suggest that anger is everyone’s problem. Even if you are one of the few people on earth
who never gets angry you are most likely not one of the few who has never experienced someone else’s anger directly or indirectly. Anger particularly in its varied and inappropriate manifestations your own or someone else’s is a problem for all of us. One common feature that most social scientists acknowledge about anger is that anger occurs when we feel threatened. I personally had to ponder that for a while but hear me out these social scientists suggest that when anger occurs two things are present a person and a threat.[2]

Allow me to elaborate these threats may be to our physical self reckless drivers, burglars, cancer to our social or extended self people, ideas things or to our self esteem our value system, sense of respect our ideal selves. Basically when some part of our total self experiences a threat real or imagined we feel anger. I emphasize “feel” here. In all of this I join many social scientists, commentators, and others when I say that as an emotion, anger in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. The problem is not the experience of the feeling at least not at first. The problem with anger is the direction that it could lead us. Or more accurately the direction we allow our anger to take us.[3] Too often when we think of or discuss anger the appropriate human feeling of anger gets twisted and blended with the inappropriate expression of it such as aggression, violence and vengeance. This may come from how we were raised or how we came to understand the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter four. Some of us came to understand the story to mean that it was wrong to be angry at all and particularly at God. But reading the story again we might see that the issue was not that Cain had become angry but that in being angry Cain was more vulnerable to the wrong expression of it.[4] So Proverbs chapter 29 verse11 is right to tell us That it is a fool who gives full vent to anger[5] that we should do as Psalm 37 verse 8 instructs us and forsake wrath and not fret or obsess because it will only lead to evil[6] but keep in mind that it is the “Full vent” that makes us fools not the anger. Almost as often in the discussion of anger we forget about a different expression of anger which is also inappropriate. This form of expression comes out of our correct decision that busting up the room is bad which it is and that any feeling of anger is bad which it isn’t and so we push, shove and squish the anger way down in our selves. Now maybe at first this “pushing down” was for good reasons maybe it was the wrong time to deal with it the wrong person the wrong place Okay but then what has happened? Now it has been suppressed so long that we end up at the very least passive aggressive unwilling or unable to address the root anger we become snipers, nitpickers, sarcastic. Or we display smiles that aren’t happy or become depressed which is anger turned inward. Frankly suppressed anger is dead weight. It prevents us from moving forward and cripples our relationships not only with those with whom we are angry but with all those we interact with in our community. Work can’t get done. Projects are stalled. Committees are fighting about snow removal when really someone or several some ones are angry about some other unresolved thing.

We wrongly think we are being “nice” or appropriate by not discussing it. We wrongly think that it is over because it has been so long. And yet, we find ourselves counting each new slight in a way that turns true molehills into Mt. Kilimanjaro! We wrongly think that as long as we keep
the imaginary mountain to ourselves that we are doing ourselves, the person with whom we are angry and the community a favor. Aren’t we grand? Aren’t we great not to bring it up? Not to cause disruption? When in fact our blood pressures are up, and we experience the anger anew every time we see the person. This is the fretting referred to in Psalm 37 and what we call festering and this is not good! Now don’t get me wrong anger is dangerous because in being angry we are much more likely to act in ways that are destructive[7] to others and to ourselves. Cain did murder Abel.

We live in a society that believes that “pay back” is appropriate; especially if we didn’t “start” it if we didn’t start it we wrongly believe we have a “right” to finish it. We cheer Rambo in First Blood which is a euphemism for “they started it”. We live in a city which at one point
had the highest murder rate in the nation. And the statistics of these murders suggested that
the murders stemmed from difficult interpersonal relationships, And were not random but more likely the horrible end result of poor expressions of anger. Excuse me?
Are we being told and more importantly are we believing that we should feel safe in a world where we have less to fear from strangers than from those who know and love us? Now murder is certainly the most horrendous outcome of poorly managed anger, but we cannot get comfortable thinking “well at least I’ve never murdered anyone”Because we are not exempt We are not off the hook from addressing our anger just because we never murdered anyone! Much of the way we behave has anger at its root and we don’t end up looking very good or smelling quite so sweet. It’s not murder but we fume at other drivers for making the same dangerous move that we have made at some point. We say hurtful things just audible enough to be heard but not so loud that we don’t have plausible deniability We malign people who have angered us and spend endless hours doing it with no plans of ever addressing the person or the issue.


In a book entitled Creative Anger the authors explore a seven step method born from years of their research. The acronym RETHINK lists skills that they assert and I’ll quote here: RETHINK skills “will assure creative outcomes will enrich relationships, resolve conflicts and contribute to physical and emotional health[8] According to the authors when we RETHINK[9]
R— we recognize our anger and what triggers it
E— we empathize with the other person meaning listening with our heart
T— we think about the situation –reframe it if necessary
H— we Hear what the other person is communicating verbally and non verbally
I— we Integrate respect with our responses
N— we Notice how our body reacts to being angry and we Notice how to calm ourselves
K— we Keep our attention on the present problem

I am aware that even with a formula handling anger is not easy and it is not something that can be corrected over night or in one sermon. Much of our new life in Christ is like this.
Our life in Christ is a life long pursuit. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we get it wrong
and sometimes we just don’t “get it”. But I assert that learning about and coming to understand our own anger falls into the category of something we can “get”. How and when we express ourselves about our anger is our choice and within our control. What we decide pushes our buttons is also under our control. We may not be able to control who pushes the buttons, but can decide how we behave when our buttons get pushed.

What God meant in Genesis chapter four and what the author of Ephesians meant is that dangerous though anger can be it does not have to be. In both of these examples being angry is not the problem letting anger get this best of us, as it did Cain, not being careful to avoid vengeance, getting even, wishing or planning the destruction and demise of someone else or letting the sun go down or as we would say fester. This is a problem. This is the problem.
We “sin” not in being angry but in what happens because we are angry. The “sin” is either in our expression as with Cain murdering his brother or it is in our lack of expression
pretending we don’t have any anger ignoring it or harboring it and then becoming bitter, slanderous and full of malice. Our struggle as followers of Christ is how do we acknowledge the reality of anger and find loving and timely expression of it our Christian community.
The author of Ephesians in chapter four verse twenty-six allows for our anger but not for a lack of resolution. Indulging anger either by murderous expression or by letting it fester under the surface of our relationships[11] is what the author of Ephesians considers sinful. This is a task for each of us to undertake. Whether we decide to truly let it go or find an appropriate healthy and helpful way to address it we are to get rid of it and as soon as possible. Learning a careful, considerate, thoughtful expression of anger is good for each of us as individuals and is good for our community.

Amen!

[1] Luke 4:18
[2] Coping With Anger – A Christian Guide - Andrew Lester p19
[3] Anger is a Choice - Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips p 14
[4] Anger – Discovering your Spiritual Ally – Andrew Lester p 32
[5] Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to anger, but the wise quietly holds it back.
[6] Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
[7] Anger – Discovering your Spiritual Ally – Andrew Lester p 32
[8] Creative Anger – putting that Powerful Emotion to Good Use – Rhoda Baruch, Edith Grothberg, Suzanne Stutman
[9] Creative Anger – putting that Powerful Emotion to Good Use – Rhoda Baruch, Edith Grothberg, Suzanne Stutman
[10] Creative Anger – putting that Powerful Emotion to Good Use – Rhoda Baruch, Edith Grothberg, Suzanne Stutman
[11] Ephesians God Calls a New People – A Study Guide - David B. Howell



Anger
Sermonic Text: Genesis 4:1-8; New Testament Text: Ephesians 4:26; 31-32
Preached February 15, 2009 - Yeadon Presbyterian Church – Philadelphia, PA