All this week I found it tough to find my quiet time and focus.
Being a wife, mom of 5, grandma of 10. a full time employee of a job that runs more like 12 hour a day and resource minister, what is alone time again? I had pushed my time with God to quick moments…out of focus and not very devoted.
Guilt tried to creep in several times as I had been carving some time this week to do some decluttering and downsizing as I am making decisions whether to renovate my cute little house built in 1955 or move on to something bigger. Like I found time for junk but not Him.
Amongst the piles of what to trash, what to give away, and what to keep for repurposing, I found treasures and tears. Joys and lows. Memories kept and some that needed to be let go. I laughed as much as I cried. I held on to as much as I said “why do I still have this?”
This morning, I go to get up determined that God and I would have coffee no matter what! Yet before I could fully get out of bed, my foot would rest on one of the many piles of sorted clothes. My mind immediately thought to tidy up a little first.
“Find Me In The Clutter”
“Find Me In The Clutter”
Clear as day. In my spirit was an utterance to see God’s Glory in all my mess. As I refocused, I see Him.
He is there with me amongst the colorful stick figure drawings and piles of mother’s day cards from the joy of being a mom and Nama.
He is there with me in the butterflies I collect in memory of the beloved twin daughters and a grandson lost at birth.
He is there with me in the college diploma I received though I was told as a teenage mother I wouldn’t graduate high school. He is there with me in all 5 of their diplomas as well.
He is there with me in the mesh and metal cage bra I wore during 25 radiation treatments after 3 months of chemo and a lumpectomy.
He is there with me in angel figurine of a woman whom I never met who died herself but left the encouragement to celebrate my 3rd year as a survivor.
He is there with me in every photo of every loved one, every saved wedding announcement, every saved funeral program. In old records, old books, tickets stubs, vacation shirts and on and on.
I am writing to you now atop a pile of clutter in a hot mess of joyful tears mixed with “God, I’m sorry.”
I can’t quite find the words to express this feeling of knowing that He is always with me and speaking, even when I am a mess in a mess. What I had classified as a distraction turned into revelation and gratitude. A different kind of devotion…. initiated by Him.
I still have work to do…… both on working on “our time” and my cluttered environment. But He urged me to be mindful to let go of the guilt and allow this to be a “rested work”. A work that has purpose and meaning that will feel less like work as we clean it together.
So if any of you earth dwellers go looking for me today, listen out for the Hallelujahs in the hallway under the piles of kids clothes!!!!
Because of our crazy blended family, I don’t get to see all my 10 grandkids during Christmas. So I gave my oldest son’s kids their gifts early so they could have Christmas together before the eldest boy leaves to spend Christmas in NJ with his mom.
The youngest in this bunch, Jonah, had a gift from me that hinted at a much wanted gift that his parents are giving him on Christmas day. He was totally confused as to why I gave him a video game for a console he does not have. I told him to go have faith. We then begin to sing his fav new phrase “Holy Spirit Activate”.
How amazing it would be it we would grab onto the promises of God this way? He has already dropped the hint. Now go have faith!!!!
The day my mother died is the day I really knew she loved me. A strange thing to say, I know, but my truth nevertheless. The understanding of all things from the beginning came with the ending.
I had crawled in bed with her waiting for her last organic breath in a sterile room. My nose irritated by the scents of alcohol and i.v. Her nose bloody from forcing oxygen. I tried to clean her face. Lotion even but tears would fall from her left eye. My strong mother didn’t cry. She “leaked” as we would call it. I didn’t want to take it away from her. Truth is, I didn’t want to lose them myself. If I wiped them, I would never again see the strength of her womanhood again.
She hadn’t spoken for 3 days. Not since she had given me some rather poetic instructions. Even now I laugh that she and I could never have a straight conversation. Always a movie script of some kind. Meaningful now, drama back then.
When the silence came, her heart monitor spoke for her. The number of beats would rise and fall as different voices entered the room and addressed her all with the same tone. “Sister?” “Ma’cia?” “Mama? Mama? MAMA!!”
I knew her 3 day rule. If she didn’t rise in the three days like Jesus did, then she didn’t want to be hooked to nothing that would change that. She was adamant about not being trapped in weakness.
But I punked out. I sang “He’s sweet I know” as if that were going to change her mind. She waved a few times. I never knew if she was raising her hands in worship or telling me to shut up.
I have always felt I failed my younger sister by allowing her to sign those dreaded papers. I remember the mix of sadness and anger in her eyes as she penned her name and then literally ran from the room. It would be days before I saw her again
I’m was not quite cognitive of where my older sister was in that moment. I knew she was there. I suspect she was no longer the Big Sister at that moment but too was again the child with the single pocahontas ponytail praying for Mama not to go. She, like Mama, would try hard to not show it, but vulnerability reveals itself even in stone.
I only found out today that they had their private moment at some point that I must have slipped away. There was a forgiveness time involved and a phone conversation with her best friend. I pray she will tell you all about that someday.
The youngest was barely a preteen. Sheltered in the room with the grandchildren. The “adults ” always feeling the need to protect them from the inevitable.
I too made that mistake. I had sent my two youngest kids to school that Monday. Not sure if I was shielding them from death or from seeing me in a child like desperation. Children need to know that their parents are human too.
The treatment of my eldest, I regret the most. I had him when I was 15. He was her baby. Her son that I birthed. She would laugh and say that I was just the “egg bearer.”
Through well meaning “it’s going to be okay” I neglected to talk to him about God’s Will and how a person’s will outweighs our tears. At the moment of her death, he comes flying in with a bouquet of get well balloons, not realizing that her version of getting well meant leaving us behind.
Let me correct that. She didn’t leave us behind. She left this world behind and we just happened to be still in it.
The room was full though. Sister’s sisters and Sister’s brothers (one on the phone was in New York). There were so many, 10 of them total. Being on the oldest end, she was a second caregiver to most of them. Missing completely was the youngest brother. He was her original baby boy and had been murdered by a robber a few short years before. Honestly, I believe that was the day she really died. Her broken heart never quite recovered and affected her body from that point forward.
Her mother, the rock of our family, had been in and out, wheeled in a chair. But I still can’t picture her in the room at that moment. I was told later how she drew close to her daughter and gently rubbed her forehead. A silent expression of love that is the hallmark for much of my family. This was the second child she had lost at too young of an age. The baby boy, Ronnie at 33 and my mom not quite 54. Her soul was hurting in ways I cannot and will not try to imagine.
Slowing beeps and tubes being removed, counting each deep draw and release. Five. The number of grace. A number I now have a love / hate relationship with. On Valentine’s Day no less. A day she has previously disliked and one I still avoid 21 years later.
I remember my pastor/godmother trying to pull me away and I screamed at her “she brought me in this world, I can go with her out.” I don’t think I ever apologized to Cat for that. Not sure I should, that pull almost took my mother’s love from me.
In that moment, holding fiercely to my mother’s arm, I felt her. Not just a shockingly strange amount of energy that only those who have held on to a transitioning person know.
But I felt her.
It should have been a peaceful moment. But I was 31 years old and wasn’t ready for her to go yet. I had questions only she could answer. I screamed. I cried. I prayed in tongues so strong and loud that Cat asked the nurse to give me a sedative.. Even now I believe my comical mother got a chuckle out of that.
But I felt her.
She was free. She was seeing her Savior. She saw that Ronnie was okay.. Everything that ever burdened her was being released.
But I felt her.
Though it was only mere minutes it felt like hours. Holding on to her arm, that ironically had no more strength or warmth, I believe I was selfishly trying to hold on to her. Hold on to her because I still needed her. I still wanted her.
But I felt her. And she was finally fierce.
Her love was intense. It was given. It was written. It was unspoken. It was taken for granted. It was appreciated. It was too much and not enough all at once. It hurt her. It hurt others. It healed her and she healed others.
And in that moment, I felt her. I felt her love and I didn’t cry for her again for one full year. My mother showed me she loved me when she let me feel her.
November 8, 2021. An excerpt from “My Mama’s Love Is Like …”
On this last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I just want to remind you that it is not just about one month but about one life, one family, one community, and one world at a time.
I still believe there is a cure out there but in the meantime there are things you can do to help yourself and your loved ones fight against a disease that robs so many families of the caregivers. Early detection is key. Get them Smash-A-Grams, do your monthly feels, and have honest conversations with your doctor.
I had a discussion recently with someone about mental health in the church. We need to be okay to not be okay every single day and support each other. Pray. Get Counseling. Then Pray some more. Below is what poured from my heart:
Forgive Me. I lied to you.
I lied to you a lot.
A clever, cute, quip.. “blessed and highly flavored.”
Yes. I am blessed.
But the flavor of the month is salty.
Both to cover up the flavor of decade.
See I am a child of the Most High God.
Above and Not beneath
Head and Not the tail.
World Class Devil Stomping Overcomer
You ain’t supposed to know that my weeping endured for more than just a night.
Tell me, is it joy in the morning?
Or joy in the mourning?
Or joy for the mourning while I am mourning in the morning.?
Am I a sinner because my mourning don’t feel blessed?
Or right now cause I ain’t comforted ?
Or I don’t wanna be a peacemaker this time?
Am I a sinner because I am still trying to forgive but can’t ever forget ?
Hands in places they should not be
Eyes on things they should not see
Tattooing my flesh & heart worthless but powerful words that should not be.
That won’t let me be
My poor in spirit just feels broke.
Even with all I have……worked for and given,
Isn’t it strange that I miss the home without the indoor plumbing where we were all together….living.
I was only meek because I was taught to be. Choked first by the annotate to never let them see me sweat.
Another time by a well armed versed.
And then again by my own brown skin.
I tried … even crowned my way thru it.
But chemo was persecution
Radiation was an insult
Diagnosis was an assault on my character .
I try to rejoice and be glad…..or at least appear that way.
Honestly I do know that there is greater in the Kingdom. My pure in heart is seeing God .
Just can’t understand why so many took the trip
In one year
In one day.
I still hungry Lord. I am still thirsty.
Here’s my cup Lord .
(Evictions. Convictions. )
It’s all full up Lord.
(Riots and Racism)
(Say Their Names)
Cause I want no more of this Lord
Full and starving
Empty and overflowing
Dying and want nobody knowing
Hush children. Hush children
Don’t let nobody be calling my name.
Is there a balm in Gilead? Do I rub it on? Do I smoke it? Does it come in sugar free gummy form?
Me who never wanted to be touched, now misses the laying on of hands.
Grease my forehead and make it stop hands.
Speak a word to me.
Just don’t kill me softly.
Just still hurting.
Walking by faith and not by sight. You run into stuff.