Your memory card is full or is it?

Memories. We have so many of them. Good memories. Bad Memories. Some memories we would like to forget while others get us out the bed in the morning.

As I have gotten older, memories seem to dictate much of my life. Memories will cause me quickly to pick up the phone to dial out or receive or not answer it at all. Yes, that is not always fair, but it is honest (Not directed at any person.) Memories will lift me up when the news is not so great and often make me think twice about decisions I need to make. Perhaps memories are a part of discernment which gets better with time. Being alone in the city, sometimes memories are all I have.

Recently, I went to my high school reunion and also visited my grandmother while I was home for the weekend. A weekend full of memories to be shared and made. My class reunion was great. I enjoyed seeing old friends and missed those not able to attend. My classmates and I mostly asked one another about other classmates and shared some funny times from back in the day. Seeing my classmates reminded me of whom I was then and who I am now. There is not too much difference, but life can sometimes take the personality out of you and give you an identity of its own. That is a constant battle that only the Lord can arm you with His grace and mercy to stay true to yourself. Nevertheless, I missed my classmates and I am sure the feeling was mutual. After so many years, coming home to unconditional love still available from my classmates, friends and family makes me feel like I can conquer the world.

Visiting my grandmother took on a somber tone in my heart. She is 93 years old with Alzheimer’s. When I looked at her, I wanted her to say hello to me and give me a hug. I smiled anyway, because I knew she would have if she could. I kissed her on her forehead and tried to get her to speak to me in her own feisty way, but she laid there relaxed and in her own world. I dared not disturb her peace. Instead I sat in the chair next to her and looked at all the pictures in the living room. Carrying on a conversation with her care giver while looking at the pictures, I took in all the memories of times I spent in my grandmother’s house. So many thoughts in so little time. I occasionally looked at my grandmother and felt a smile and a frown battling for space. I do not know who won. Grandma did share her memories for years before and during her illness. Memories are made to be shared.  The best gift she ever gave me was her memories. Well maybe the ability to take no mess, but that honor may belong with all the women in the family.

There is a line in the movie called “The Family that Preys” where Kathy Bates’ character, Charlotte Cartwright says,”Your memory card is full.”   She is sitting on the bed having her own reality check that she has Alzheimer’s disease. She gets upset and Alfre Woodard’s character, Alice doesn’t understand why she is so upset. Before the line in the movie, Charlotte and Alice go on a cross-country trip taking pictures everywhere they go to having the time of their lives.  As the trip ends, the memory card is full. In Charlotte’s mind, this is all that is left. A full memory card. No more memories can be put on it.

The Lord gives His gift of time to experience and enjoy life. He gives us the ability to have and share memories that will last a lifetime. In each moment of time we have, we are making memories happen. Will you look back at your memories and keep your peace knowing you enjoyed so much of your life? Will you hold a private pity party and say I wished things were different?  Will you think about what your memory card holds and decide, is it full or do I still have some memories to create? I already know the answer!

“We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us.” — David Seamands

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”–Matthew Barrie
“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9

Sometimes there are no words…

To describe a humbling experience. On March 15th I had the pleasure of styling the hair of five amazing women for a fashion show hosted by the AAPD also known as American Association for People with Disabilities. The models wore clothes designed by Norma Kamali. There were 14 models in all and they all had a disability.

I was not sure of what to expect because all I knew was the models had various disabilities and co-workers and myself would be styling their hair. I walked into the room carrying my equipment and the silent uncertain looks from the models turned into approving smiles and nods. I totally felt like a rock star! The mood was very high energy and everyone had a big smile on their face with kinds words to share. I was introduced to Norma Kamali and she was very approachable, warm and hands-on with the preparation of the models. Since she is a fashion icon I made sure I looked Carrie Bradshaw fabulous. I felt I was the one for the job. I did not hold my position based on arrogance, but on the assumption that the Lord’s favor was all over this experience. Not just for me, but for everyone involved.

While we were styling the models’ hair and make-up and as they were putting on their outfits to be modeled, I noticed the banter of the models. Their conversations were as casual as if there was not a fashion show going on. They talked about their jobs, boyfriends, hobbies, etc. They conversed about the gala and how excited they were to participate. They enjoyed the attention. No model seemed to be focused on they disability nor were they focused on anyone that may be staring at them. Laughter and smiles were the order of the day. As each model was finished with hair and/or make-up another model or stylist would compliment them on how beautiful they looked. Cameras were flashing like paparazzi. They were taking pictures of everything. With every humble breath they spoke of gratitude and appreciation.

The fashion show was starting in a few minutes and I had to finish styling one model. She was getting upset because Norma’s assistant kept approaching me to ask me how long I would be. I would say a few minutes each time. I knew the drill based on my years as an educator for Paul Mitchell. I insured my model that she would be on the stage and the assistants do what assistants do for the sake of hurrying things along. Sure enough she was the third model out on the stage.

We watched the models come out on stage. My co-workers who were complaining and nagging after we finished the models suddenly took a proud stance as they watched the models model their outfits. I fought back tears looking at them moving like proud peacocks across the stage. So many thoughts went through my head. God is good! The audience clapped and the photographers snapped pictures of them as they moved about. I felt like I just won the lottery.

When I arrived home after the fashion show, I thought about the models and the people attending the gala which included the fashion show. There are times in our lives which moments can be speechless. This was a moment that the Lord did not speak to me. He showed me. To feel His presence in a room full of women who may have even doubted everything about Him, but they wore His grace and mercy proudly was a moment in my life I will never forget.

But the meek will inherit the earth and enjoy great peace. Psalms 37:11

All the charm and beauty of a woman may have amounts to nothing if she reflects her Creator and assumes the posture of a graceful servant, she cannot help but command high respect and love.– Jeanne Hendricks

THE VILLAGE PEOPLE

Growing up in a small town and a very close community of families taught me many things about life. As a child, I remember having the same routine for many years and unknowingly felt comfortable because of the routine. No worries would have been my mantra. I could count on dinner on the table by six because Walter Cronkite’s voice on TV meant it was time to eat. I knew when my grandfather shined his shoes, he was going into town the next day and we could watch cartoons, Soul Train and Lawrence Welk because it was Saturday. On Sunday mornings when the God awful organ music on the radio started to play, my grandmother demanded silence as the obituaries were being announced on the radio.  For the longest time things did not change. People around me did not change as well.

As children, my brothers and I enjoyed the pleasures of riding our bikes, creating adventures in the woods, using our imaginations to the fullest and getting into trouble occasionally because we tested adults to see what we could get away with, but usually never did. If we visited a relative or some adult family friends, the fear of God was put into us and the following rules always applied; say yes ma’am and yes sir or no ma’am or no sir, please and thank you. Do not ask for anything and by all means be seen and not heard. Good rules for adults, confining ones for children. Nevertheless, we tried our best of be perfect children when in the presence of adults. When we were not with our parents, the threat of punishment was doubled because any bad conduct did by one of us in the presence of another adult meant twice the reprimand. The adult would correct us and tell on us and in turn our parents would correct us. Usually the first warning was oral i.e., I am telling your mama! The second one was corporal. No need to explain the rest of what happens. Rest assured my brothers and I knew our place in the grown up world. While we knew adults loved us and provided for us, we also knew they were to be respected.

Adults knew their roles in the presence of children as well. I remember sitting in the kitchens of grandmothers, aunties and family friends listening to their stories about random topics like cooking, sewing or the news of the day. They usually labored and conversed at the same time. Preparing a meal or canning vegetables they often gave me a chore to do and I was always glad to do it until I got bigger and the chore as well. They made it a point to explain how things were done. They were very patient, wise and loving. When there was something I was not supposed to hear or know I was sent out of the room. “Go play outside” meant the gossip was getting good. I hated to leave.

The men folk were equally blessed with patience, wisdom and love. They offered advice and a helping hand to us often, but they were more likely to let us learn the hard way. When we did learn the hard way, we paid close attention to our mistakes because grandpas, uncles and family friends weren’t into bailing us out of trouble so much as they were allowing us to learn from our trouble. Tough love with a soft edge.

Adult logic seemed not to make sense to me when I was a child until I became an adult and life experiences warranted some wisdom and understanding I was so thankful I was armed with to help me. I may have acted like I was not listening or I did not care, but back in my head I stored the treasures of conversations, scoldings, and I told you so.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD

My network of village people, my parents, my grandparents, my aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbors and family friends all performed their roles to perfection. Leaving a legacy of unconditional love, conventional wisdom and all the tools to survive in this world, they are truly a blessing to me. I hope and  pray I am a blessing to my family and young adults I meet on my path.

You have a responsibility to your village children, whether they are in your own family or youngsters on your path.  Do not be afraid to step up because the fear of not stepping up is even greater! The enemies of innocent youth have had their ways long enough.

1 Timothy4:12- Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (Please feel free to share this scripture with a young person)

The Eagle in the Chicken Yard

The story of the Eagle in the Chicken Yard is a favorite fable of mine. No matter how many times I read it or think about it, I am inspired to do something to go to the next level. I also have the desire to help my fellow eagles achieve their goals.

As the story goes, a farmer took an egg from an eagle’s nest and laid it under a hen to be hatched. This eagle realized something was wrong deep down inside, but all he knew was the life he was born into. The eagle would stare at the sky wanting to fly and even tried on numerous occasions. For some unknown reason the farmer clipped his wings to keep him down. The eagle never stopped looking up at the sky.

One day a storm brewed and the chickens scurried about in fear, but the eagle did not feel any fear. He simply watched the chickens and other barnyard animals run and hide from the storm. A big gust of wind came along while the eagle stood alone in the barnyard and the eagle, having noticed the farmer forgot to clip his wings, stretched his wings out. He looked up at the sky and saw another eagle.

The eagle that was raised as a chicken looked at the fearful chickens and looked at the eagle gracefully soaring in the sky. The eagle in the sky let out a mighty cry. The sound of the cry moved the eagle to flap his wings and with a big gust of wind, the eagle raised as a chicken flew high above the clouds and left the chicken yard never to return!

Writing this story makes me want to put on my running shoes, but its 20 degrees outside. So I will make a list of goals instead.

We live in a world that encourages chicken behavior. Not to take away from the chickens. They have a purpose too. But all too often an eagle with misplaced identity wonders around feeling insecure, lonely, and doubtful because he knows deep down inside him, he is something more. He does not look like a chicken, nor sound like a chicken. He just does not know who he is yet.

Why the farmer took the eagle from his natural habitat, no one knows for sure? The farmer’s malevolence seems common place in today’s society. We call them “haters.”  The farmer clipped the eagle’s wings wanting to keep him down, but as the scripture says, what was meant for harm, God used it for good. The clipped wings kept the eagle grounded until it was time for him to fly. And oh boy did he ever!

When the eagle flapped his wings and realized he could fly, nothing could stop him. He knew he had the power and the means to go to the next level. I am sure the chickens looked at one another and thought, if he can do it so can I. Feel free to imagine what they looked like trying to fly from the barnyard.

You are an eagle in the chicken yard.  You know people will want to hold you back, but they will not. You know you are better than your circumstances. You know your path is not the same as others. When you know you are an eagle your breakthrough is only the beginning of all God has in store of you.  But don’t look down at the chickens!

God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us. Ephesians 3:20

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas! You can never count the number of times you’ve said, “Merry Christmas!” Nor can you count the number of times you’ve been told the same greeting. As an adult Merry Christmas is the polite and appropriate thing to say to fellow Christians and such, but then I thought to myself, I’m totally detached from what Merry Christmas means. It saddened me, yet it made me think.

My reflective thoughts sent me back to my childhood and a warm generous feeling of joy filled my heart. I smiled and stared out of my window wishing the day away. I can’t go back to my childhood, but thank the Lord for having a childhood and a good one. One of my favorite memories is Grandpa JC’s big brown paper bags filled with oranges, apples, pencils and candy. I enjoyed my parent’s gifts, but his gift was a sure surprise for years. I think my brothers and I were excited each Christmas we received them even though we knew what to expect. That excitement wasn’t only about the bag of treats, it was about routine, security and knowing unconditional love is always there for us.  That was a Merry Christmas!

As an adult Merry Christmas takes on a different, yet similar meaning to me. The comfort I loved and longed for from family and friends also comes from my understanding of having Jesus Christ in my life. Christmas is a great time to renew your relationship with God and his Son. His birth is an awesome gift. The faith of Joseph and Mary signifies trust. The story of the Nativity scene reminds me of God’s miracles. God is good!

What does saying Merry Christmas mean to you?