Faithwalk: A Child’s Journey. A Mother’s Prayer.

From Alex’s sketchbook.

Over the years I’ve listened to parents say they cried through boxes of tissues as their children– first, second or third– head off to college for the first, second or third time. I listened with intent, waiting for the day to weep with joy as my child too, set off on the collegiate adventure. Well, that time has come. On Monday, I took my daughter, Alex, shopping for kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and bedroom supplies. The day was all about her. I did my best not to interject what I thought best reminding myself, she’s a young adult.  I let her share freely without being judgmental remembering at 19 she had her own journey. The first year, despite three college scholarships, Alex chose to attend the local community college. I prayed she would change her mind. A semester later, I realized my perspective was not reality. Again wise parents spoke, “It’s better she knows that she’s not ready then for her to leave, be unhappy or return home.” I accepted those words of wisdom, not quickly or easily. So on Monday, I asked Alex if she had all girl roommates. “Yes,” she said. “Good. I prayed you wouldn’t room with boys.” Her good friend, a male, was also attending the same college, and their hope: to be roommates, not mine. “You need to stop prayer blocking.” She laughed. “It’s a all a mother can do,” I said.  Prayer blocking. Good term. Ironically, my mother also prayer blocked. A few weeks ago, I told my mother I accepted the part-time position  that I didn’t really want. My fall goal was to write full-time. She said, “I’m happy. I’ve been praying that you would take that position. It’s a guaranteed paycheck no matter how small.” I huffed. Yet, she was right. Saturday morning I woke up and prayed, Lord give me all the right words to encourage Alex. Then, I wrote a prayer list, in my journal, to share on our seven-hour car ride. When I write things down, I remember easily. I didn’t bring the list with me. I didn’t say everything all at once, a little at a time. You know children don’t listen to parents when they lecture or make them feel bad about their choice. I’m speaking from experience, my mother stayed with me first for three months, then left, and returned for another three months. And there were moments I tuned her out. So between dancing, singing, eating, bathroom breaks, moving in, decorating, and shopping here  are my prayerful words of encouragement: (I’m sure I said so much more.)

  1. When you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed ask the Lord to order your steps. And if you forget, say it while brushing your teeth.
  2.  Prayer doesn’t simply mean your eyes are closed, you’re on your knees, our your head is bowed, prayer is just talking to God. Do that all the time.
  3.  Go on a solo adventure. Do something exciting by yourself without friends. Just do it.
  4.  God gave you an amazing gift. Use it. Play the piano, bow the cello, draw, draw, draw.
  5.  When God sends you an awesome mentor to help you excel, listen, do, listen, and do more.
  6.  In the words, of Maya Angelou at 80 years old: remember that you have already been raised. You don’t need parents. You’re a young adult coming into your own.
  7.  If you decide not to come home, it’s okay. I will come visit. Make the best life you can with what you have.
  8.  Have fun. Have fun. Have more fun.
  9.  Learn to tell your parents to stay out of your business. We can be nosy parkers. (I have to admit I think she learned this one already.)
  10.  Sometimes God will place you in the desert. You will be alone. God wants your attention. Jesus was in the desert. Moses was in the desert.  They listened and obeyed. They were victorious.
  11.  Find a place to worship, don’t become spiritually homeless.

And when we she dropped me at the train station the next morning, I looked into her eyes and said, “You are beautiful. When someone tells you, you are beautiful, smile and say thank you. Don’t act like it’s the first time you’ve heard it.” We hugged. “Mom, I love you.”

Faithwalk: Words of Inspiration

When I hear or read profound statements, I write them in my journal, post on Facebook or type on my iphone notepad. So this week, I’ll share a few:

  • I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. –Edward Everett Hale
  • You have to know you are somebody because when others know you are somebody they will respect you; yet if you don’t know that you are somebody others will treat you as a nobody.
  • Trust becomes a verb when you communicate to others their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.
  • Be a girl with a mind, a woman with attitude, and a lady with class.
  • Being powerful is like being a lady; if you tell people you are, you aren’t—Margaret Thatcher.
  • Never envy the success of another… you don’t know how much she had to sweat to get there.
  • If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends; succeed anyway

Faithwalk: Immune to Death

Last week Friday, I attended a funeral. This is not the first death this year. Week before last a friend and I attended a wake, two days before that a few of us sent phone condolences for a young man who had a heart attack. His brother and I attended the  same elementary school. In June, during a church business meeting, the pastor announced two deaths: someone’s brother and another person’s beloved aunt found in their apartments. The list goes on. Death devastates family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances.

Simultaneously, some of us have become immune to death. I’m not being cynical; I’m being real. I think I’m one of those people.  While in Bible study, a few days after the movie theater shooting, the pastor asked how did we feel about this shooting, about the violence that seems to surround us daily? Are we sad, in need of justice, angry, questioning God or have we become immune. I didn’t comment. But I knew I had become immune to death.

I can thank my grandfather, deceased now, for my becoming immune to death. In the fourth grade, I attended my first funeral. He lifted me up to get a closer look at the body lying in the casket. I flinched. He whispered in my ear: “if touch a dead body you will not fear death.”  It must have worked. I grew up with the silly sayings about death. What candy will save you from dying? Lifesavers. All I need to know is when and where I will die, and I won’t be there. At one point in my life, I wanted to be buried in a trash bag. No need to spend a fortune on a casket. That comment made my ex-husband angry. The simply truth is we are all going to die: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

And yes, close relatives have died. In 2005 I buried my youngest and only sister, in 2007 my favorite aunt, also my godmother and the only person who called me cheetah, and 2011 my grandmother. I lived with that angel for the first twelve years of my life. I was considered the eleventh child, rather than a grandchild. So, I understand death up close and personal.

Sitting in that church last Friday, listening to Rev. Lisa Weaver’s message: “Rejoice and Be Comforted” made me realize that death is all around us in all forms and facets. People, places and things die daily. In June, I legally buried my 23-year-old marriage when I received my certified divorce papers. My relationship with my teenager girls died as well. They have chosen to live with their father, and not keep in touch with me, or offer explanation. I have some of my own reasonings, but that’s another blogpost.  The end of a three-year contract killed my dream of owning a townhouse.  A few friendships have also died along the way.

One woman told me she divorced me as a friend, and if she ever needed something I would be the last person she would ask.  That friendship should have died before I spent money on a bridesmaid dress. Now that’s the cynical side of me. Another eleven-year-old collective friendship expired last year; simply one bad email after another, and not one grown person picked up the phone to say what’s happening, let’s fix this.

Surrounded by so much death, brings me back to Friday’s funeral. Despite the people, the things, and the places that die in our life we can’t get stuck grieving, although we should grieve as long as possible. We must rejoice in what we cannot see for God has other plans. And allow yourself to be comforted; even when friends and family go home and we are left alone in our grief.

Are you immune to death?

Faithwalk: Slumming in Silence

Slumming; taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon on the couch.

Often times the days are busy from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we lay down to sleep. Go. Go. Go. Last week my cousin Joyce, a super mom with a full-time travelling job, three children, and a husband, posted on her Facebook status that when she woke up she didn’t want to go to work. And we’ve all been there. Of course, I commented. She’s needs a slumming day in silence. One of those days in which you wear your pajamas all day, sleep as late as you can, wake eat, watch a movie, eat a pint of ice cream, take a nap, read a book or a magazine. The key is to allow yourself a day off  to think in silence, or simply not think, to work on a project that brings you pure pleasure and allows you to stay home.

Slumming in silence is a day we all need. Life is too short to go, go, go, go. Now, someone is thinking: really? How can I do that, take a day off? Here’s a few simple tricks to planning your day of slumming in silence.

First, you are not the most important person in the world, so stuff will get done whether you do it or not.

Secondly, if you don’t do it today, it will get done tomorrow.

Third, plan the day. Remember the adage failing to plan is planning to fail. Well, plan your slumming day just as you would a doctor’s appointment, a lunch with a friend or coworker, or a business meeting. Look at the calendar, and take note of those floating holidays, regular scheduled one-day holidays, Saturday or Sunday.

Next make a mental note and a physical note to yourself that you are taking a slumming in silence day. It’s like preparing for vacation. You look forward to getting away.

And then be true to yourself, let nothing interrupt your day. Not even you. Staying at home does not mean cleaning the house: vacuuming, laundry, cooking, dusting. However some times it does mean turning off your cell phone, and not checking email, Twitter or Facebook.

Finally, tell a friend so you are accountable. Eventually slumming in silence will become a part of your monthly routine.

So, let me know when you plan and succeed at your Slumming in Silence Day.

Faithwalk: Sign of the Times

Inspirational wall décor is everywhere: Facebook, Pinterest, Tweeter, souvenir shops, department stores, kitchens, living rooms, and offices…the list goes on. These words remind us of the small things like cherish, love, and embrace every moment of life and the people in our lives. I’ve posted a few on Facebook, and wondered if people really are doers of the sign of the times. Then I simply thought about me, since I can only speak for myself.

So when I posted the sign with these words: RUN, CREATE, PUSH, KICK, ASK, CHANGE, GIVE, OPTIMIZE, SEARCH, SEE, WRITE, DREAM, SPIN, HEAR, FLY, DESIRE, and MOVE—I was on a hiking vacation in Virginia. And when I reread the words, I realized I had lived these actions. Why? I was walking on the path of peace knowing that no one can bring me peace but me, which meant I had to face realizing I may not be perfect, but I’m always me. (My cousin Eugene commented on my Facebook that always being me meant: I’ve always been crazy.)

Imagine a sign coming true. Who knew my DESIRE to travel this summer would place me on the seashores of San Diego and offer me a DREAM of living on a houseboat for a year? How crazy is that to live on a boat and can’t swim? I guess that means swimming lessons this year. Well, if I PUSHed myself to stay on the MOVE during my first seven-mile hike in Shenandoah National Park, where I CHANGEd my mind about the importance of maps, I can learn to swim. Electronic gadgets don’t work above 1800 feet, and sometimes there’s a fork in the road and only a map will help you choose the right path. Speaking of the right path, after the second hike I could SEE how hiking was like a faithwalk through rocky terrains, noises in the brush, lonely trails, and maps as guides.

After leaving Virginia, I decided to CREATE the same intense exercise routine at home. In VA we, Sharon and I, went hiking, and walking, attended a kickboxing and Zumba class as well as yoga and pumped iron in the weight room. I’ve been home for ten days and have taken two Zumba classes in which I had to SPIN and KICK and then ASK myself what was I thinking when I couldn’t RUN out of the class that was like a bad movie thinking it’s not over yet. I ‘m sure I should GIVE Zumba another try, but when one is directionally challenged she, meaning me, needs to HEAR the instructor count and point. I’m proud of myself because I didn’t FLY off the handle and criticize. I considered it OPTIMIZing  my exercise benefits. After all, I purchased a discount ticket for 10 classes; eight more to go.

Living the signs of the times has offered interesting stuff to WRITE in my journal. In the words of author Maud Hart Lovelace, “Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.”

Until next week: dream, scream, love, take a long hot bath, live abundantly, just let go, and be.