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Sunday, June 28, 2015

What I Learned This Week: I'm Tired of Listening to Your Hate

This week I learned just how hateful people can be. I listened and watched as people complained and argued and wagged flags of hatred at one another. The funny thing is, even the flags that were supposed to be declaring love proclaimed in loud voices and upraised fists hate for their oppressors and a vanity in overcoming them. The flags I saw this week wore stars, bars, stripes and rainbows,  silver and gold crests pinned to uniform shirts, N-words, and black leather covers. Each of the flags flies over hearts of hatred. 

Inasmuch as people continue to exert their right to fly the flags of hatred, I have decided not to fly my flag at all. My flag is no better than any of the others. It displays a one sided view of what and whose I am. So instead of flying a flag of self-admiration. I have decided instead to carry an ever changing and morphing flag of you. My determination is to bare a flag of affirmations for the people around me. They are not my beliefs and ideals that I need to force into your life and into your airspace, it is my love. I chose to move under the flag of you and let it be filled with my adoration of you. I chose to operate all of my business under the flag of you and truly it doesn't even matter what you are, what you believe, what you identify with, or what you don't. This week I learned to love you in spite of our differences. I learned to love you no matter what you believe. I learned to love you no matter what you do. I may not like your actions and you may not like mine, but under the flag of you it's not about me. It's only about the love that I must have in my heart for the people around me.

The Bible says to love my neighbor as myself. So I have decided that the words that come out of my mouth and influence people will be loving words, uplifting words, empowering words. I will share words of love and compassion. Your flags are not symbols of nations, they are symbols of separation. I no longer chose to acknowledge them. We are much more than a nation under God, we are a people under Him, neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male nor female, we are one under Christ (Gal. 3:28). 

So when you see me, don't be surprised about the flag that I have raised high above my head and how it seems to resonate in you. It won't be a flag that you recognize but it will be oh, so familiar. 

1 John 4:19-20, "19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen,cannot love God, whom they have not seen."

1 Timothy 2:1, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

What I Learned This Week: I Can Be What I Want to Be

Actually, I didn't learn that this week. I knew that I could be whatever I wanted to be. What I really learned is that I can choose not to be who I am. It is a confusing thing I may have to explain to my children one day with the hashtag #transracial.

For the last 22 years I have been trying to teach my children to be proud of who they are; the beautiful and talented creations that God made. I have encouraged them to reach into themselves and dream. To think the possibilities endless. I have encouraged the drawing of cartoons, the telling of stories, the bouncing of balls, the blowing against reeds, the testing of new recipes, and the bellowing of songs. What I have failed to encourage is the denial of self. I have failed to teach them to make changes to God's perfect creation. I have failed to tell them that sometimes God makes mistakes and they have every right to correct Him. I have failed to encourage them to turn their noses up against everything that they are for their own infinite knowledge and for the succession into what they feel is best.

Unfortunately, I have taught my children that their hair and their skin are beautiful. That their culture is theirs to embrace. I have taught them that we have a history embedded in a history and it is rich and dynamic and nothing to be ashamed of. I have taught them that they can unashamedly be all of who they are. I never told them to try to be anyone else.

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

What I Learned This Week: Something About Reaching My Destination

It isn't the determination required to get there as much as it is the destination at which you arrive. We are all going somewhere. Some faster, some slower, some with detours and some straight away. It may be with and it may be without determination, knowledge and forethought. Some travel through life going with the ebbs and flows, never paddling with purpose, but being pulled by the tide. Others stroke with ferocity, fighting every wave, pushing through.

This week, I learned that I am somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. I'm motivated to move myself along but when the current is rough I float. Feeling defeated and deflated I float along waiting for the next move of the ocean. Something that piques my interest and inspires me once again to take up oars and paddle. Moving toward an unknown mark. Feeling like Abraham; not knowing but trusting and enjoying the course.

What I learned this week, as I stepped out of the boat and into my current destination, is that no matter what the seas may seem like, no matter how deep and wide, no matter how tall the waves, I will get there. I will stand on dry land and bask in the sunshine. I will, no matter how hard the world tries to tell me different and prove me wrong, in spite of my own doubts and fears, be where I am destined to be. It is a comfortable place. It is a place that has been prepared for me. It is a place where I realize all that I have been given and I am able to bring all that I am.

I also learned to anchor my boat at the shore. This isn't my final destination. Much more and much greater landing spots are ahead.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's Not a Diet

But that's just what I keep telling people about the change I have made in our eating habits.  I guess it was the lure of a meal plan that would affect me for the next 30 days. Something that I could hold on to. Something that is long enough to make me feel like I have put effort into it but still short enough to feel like I could surely make it to my next piece of 31.

Tonight I was encouraged to prepare a meal that mimicked the comfort food that I crave but remained true to the restrictions of the meal plan. My dinner included no sugar or sweeteners of any kind, no grain, and no chemical additive.  (Sorry no pics)

My recipe served two adults and 4 kids. Everyone was full.

Fried Catfish, Sweet Yams and Roasted Green Beans (serves 4-6)

1. Peel and cut two large yams into large cubes.
2. Place in a pot and cover with water.
3. Boil until soft.
4. Drain and sprinkle with All Spice.
5. Mash and serve hot.

Roasted Green Beans:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° f
2. Wash and snip the stem ends of about 1 pound fresh green beans.
3. Place on a cookie sheet.
4. Sprinkle with basil infused olive oil.
5. Sprinkle lightly with salt and garlic.
6. Cook until fork tender. Serve hot.

1. Heat two tablespoons of coconut oil in a heavy skillet.
2. Season 2 pounds catfish nuggets with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika.
3. Scramble one egg and pour over catfish.
4. Coat catfish in mashed potato flakes.
5. Pan fry catfish in small batches until brown and crisp. Add more oil if needed.
6. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making Something

If there were one thing that I could identify that anchors me it would be the times that my mother, my aunts and my grandmothers spent teaching and showing, encouraging and empowering me to make something with my hands. When I was a girl I was fascinated with the things that they would crochet, knit, sew, latch hook and cross stitch. I wanted to sit with them and learn. I wanted to make things.

As an adult I still look to the time that I can set aside to pull out a ball of yarn or a few yards of fabric and make something.

Today I sat down with a tablet of paper, yarn, and my hooks and decided to write a pattern. I wanted the stitches to twist around each other (not an easy feat in crochet) but I got it done!

The chains between the shells and clusters appear twisted together.
It might look a little complicated but it's not.

Fruited Vine Scarf Pattern

I used DK/light worsted weight yarn and a size G hook but any hook and yarn will work.

This pattern gets its name from the clusters of "fruit" between the "twisted" vines.

Ch 28

Row 1. 2dc in 4th ch from hook, [ch6, sk4 , dc in next 5 sts holding back last loop of each (6 loops on hook) yo pull through all loops on hook (cluster made), ch7], 2xs, ch6, sk4, 3dc in last ch.

Row 2. Ch3, turn, 2dc in same sp, [ch3, take loop off hook, put loop back on hook from back of work under ch6 of previous row, ch3, 5dc in top of cluster from row below(shell)], 2xs, ch3, take loop off hook, put loop back on hook from back of work under ch6 of previous row, ch3 (twisted stitch made), 3dc in top of last dc.

Row 3. Ch3, turn, 2dc in same sp, (ch6, sk chains, cluster in 5dc of shell, ch7) 2xs, ch6, sk4, 3dc in last ch.

Finish off on Row 2.

Twisted stitch in pictures:

 Easy-Peasy! Have fun!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Hungry Man

Children, the house, church, work...we certainly get bogged down as women. We have a lot to do. We are responsible for the lives of many people. I don't know about you, but sometimes everything is just so overwhelming that I just want to scream. But so what, right? It is what it is. We get up early, we stay up late and most of the time it feels like a terribly thankless job. But we love our children, we are proud of the homes we keep, we are proud of ourselves and all the many things that we can manage. We dote on ourselves as the nurse, cook, housekeeper, therapist, accountant, manager, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, at some point in all that doing we forget about the man that steals the covers and leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor. We may even start to resent him. He makes more work for us. He doesn't help the way we want him to. He doesn't follow directions. We start treating him like one of the kids, spouting out orders and commands. And when he doesn't obey we punish him. We neglect him. We stop feeding him. He begs to eat but we put the kids, housework, chores, and to-do lists on his plate and as he starves to death we shake our head as we proclaim, "I'm tired!"

Ladies! Stop. A hungry man feeds himself. 

Have you ever gone away for a day or two and left your husband to fend for himself and the kids? When you returned did you find that in your absence he and the kids ate healthy, home cooked meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, juice and plenty of water? Probably not. You shook your head as you looked in the freezer at the untouched meals you left for them or the fast food bags crumpled in a heap in the trash can. It's not that he didn't want to eat a healthy meal. It's not that he doesn't know what's good for him. But he kind of counts on you. He's looking for you to feed him. It's not rebellion, he's certainly capable, but God created him in a way that he looks to you to make sure he stays full.

But it's more than that, isn't it? It really isn't necessarily about nutrition, though in your house that may be part of the equation but what it really is about is contentment. Let's take a moment to look at ourselves...

We all start out with an empty plate. We are hungry. As babies we cried to be fed and in some aspects, as adult women we cry to be fed as well. Who will feed us? We may feed ourselves by pampering ourselves, getting our nails done, taking a long bubble bath, relaxing and reading a magazine. The activities that take care of us feed us, they fill us up. They make us content. Then our friends feed us with some girl time. We laugh and connect and understand each other. They feed us with encouragement and compliments, they feed us by empathizing with our struggles and comforting us. They feed us with their support. Our kids feed us with smiles and laughter and kisses and hugs with little hands and fingers wrapped around our hands. They fill us up with "Mommy you are the most beautiful girl in the whole world," "Mommy, I love you," and "Can I sit with you, Mommy?" Our jobs fill us up with feelings of competence and accomplishment. And certainly God fills us up as we spend time in prayer and meditation, as we read and study the bible, we are filled as we attend church services and bible studies. The spiritual woman is fed. 

And full, we move through the days of our lives returning to the "fridge" for what we need, when we need it.

What about our husbands? You may look at the list above and think, why can't he just get full the way I do. I don't need him to feed me, why do I need to feed him. He has friends, he has a job, the kids are his too, and they adore him. For him, though, it's not that simple. Men have different hunger pains. There hunger is bigger. They have manly appetites and need heavy meals of meat and potatoes. So now you're thinking, great, something else on my list of things to do. Like I can take on one more task. But honestly, you can't afford not to. If you don't, then he's left to fend for himself. He becomes resentful and angry. He doesn't want to sit in another drive-thru line. He doesn't want another meal wrapped in paper. He wants a hot meal on real dishes, and he wants you to give it to him.

Now you may equate this with being motherly. Your children, of course, get a great amount of their feeding from you. This has been your job since they were itty-bitty in a bassinet next to your bed. They cried and you fed them every need that they had. They were never hungry long. You made sure of it. Now here is this grown man, crying like a baby and he expects you to drop everything to feed him. Even the kids don't need to be fed like that anymore. But this isn't a motherly task. This is a womanly task. The task is that of a wife who, taken by a husband, wants to please him. 

Proverbs 31:11-12 AMP (you knew it was coming) says, "The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil. She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her." That scripture is the guideline, I'll give you that as many women have told me that the Proverbs 31 woman isn't a real woman, or she isn't one woman alone, and that she's simply an outline, so to speak, so I'll save that discussion for another time we will just suffice to say this is a guideline. Inasmuch, the scripture says that he relies on her. He relies on her for what? Take your mind off your husband for a moment and imagine this scripture referred to mothers and their children. Now the scripture is clear.  The heart of her son trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil. She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her. The scripture becomes one that is tasteful to you now even if it was distasteful before. It also becomes very plain. The mother meets the needs of the child. He doesn't go looking for other mommies to give him lunch or fix his boo-boos, or snuggle with him on the couch. His mommy, the one God gave him, meets all his needs and is enough. It's the same with our husbands.

A friend of mine said that when he was young he played football. During the games he would look to the stands for his mother. He looked for her approval, encouragement, support, and love. She was always there. With bells on (literally---a story for another day) and she met his needs. She fed him. He had no need of dishonest spoil. He didn't need the encouragement of anyone else because his mom was there. As an adult with a wife, he looks to her now for encouragement, the smiling face in the crowd. He seeks her out among the many. He wants to be fed by her. It is his strength.

That's the way God laid it out. That's the way it is supposed to be. So as wives we come into the relationship with one very important task. We don't let our husbands starve. We don't allow them to be hungry. If there is no food at home, eventually our husbands must go out and find food. He doesn't want to eat on paper plates with disposable forks, he wants to eat at home. It's the wives responsibility to fill her husband's plate with all that he needs. Even when we are tired we feed our children when they are hungry. We don't make them suffer hunger pains. Likewise, no matter how tired we are, we need to feed our husbands. They suffer longer than the babies do before they cry out, but just like the babies, they always let you know they are hungry. Keep in mind, the waiting feels like eternity to them. 

I know you're thinking, what about me? When do I get to eat? Well, ladies, this isn't about us, but if we must...we have a different appetite than our husbands. We are fed in some of the same ways and in many different ways, but our husband's want to feed us. They want to be the source of our satisfaction. When we start to make them feel like we value them, we appreciate them and that they do many things that please us they will be sure that we are fed. Open your mouth and tell him what you are hungry for. He probably doesn't know, he may even think he doesn't have what you would like. But a closed mouth doesn't get fed. The bottom line is this, do you want to do what the Bible tells you to do or do you want to stand on your own convictions? Of course, you may. You can do whatever fancies you. But the Bible is clear about the wife's responsibility to her husband. 

It's a mind set. It's a heart set. Feeding your husband is an action that you decide to take. They don't stop eating just because there's no food at home. So make the decision. Make the Proverbs 31 choice. Once you have decided in your mind and heart that your husband will not be a hungry man, start preparing his meals. You can even refer to the fun chart below for your meal planning.

Preparing a Balanced Diet for the Hungry Man:

Make you feel full, lots of energy, turns to sugar
(Regularly and on request)
One on one bedroom time, lots of intimacy results in lots of sweet moments for you both
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety, lots of vitamins, delicious with few calories, eat freely
(Daily and liberally)
Let him know how he completes you and all the reasons you said “yes”
Oils, Fats, Sugar and Salts
Use sparingly, too many can jeopardize overall health and wellness
Sometimes you have to just do it gently and try not to make it a habit
Milk and Dairy
Builds healthy bone structure, Vitamins
On this he can go out and conquer the world
Lean Meats, Fish, Poultry, Beans and Seeds 
Full of protein, iron and are the building blocks of the body
Let him know what’s on your mind and in your heart. Share your hopes and dreams and together you will build a strong relationship that will withstand many trials.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Almost a Hoarder

I cringe when I see those shows on tv-- men and women whose families come together for some form of intervention trying to convince a loved one that they are living a life of destructive excess. Hoarding things and holding onto them as if there were some value still in a broken coffee mug or a room filled with old newspapers.

I wonder when I watch those shows how close am I to becoming one of them with my book shelf stacked a little beyond its capacity with books found, given and bought. "I love books," I reason, "I want my kids to love books." Greeting cards in my bureau. Stacks of patterns under my bed and cabinets and boxes stuffed full of yarn and fabrics, notions and needles. Things that I am making. Classes that I will be teaching. And when someone comes to me with questioning in their eyes about the project they know I can, and will complete with the supplies out of my stash to mend or make...I reason.

And on those days when I feel particularly energetic I start to sift through things, a trash bag at my side as I wistfully toss what I know I won't finish, what I think I won't need, stickers that have lost their glue, paper that is faded, patterns for things that are out of fashion, yarn that is knotted. Those things I throw away. And in the throwing away I gain new inspiration in found things that had been forgotten. I am drawn into who I was created to be. I am drawn into a creative vision that I can't help but explore. I reason.

When I die, if you are given the task of cleaning up and clearing out you might be on the edge of referring to me as a hoarder. You will think I was almost there. The treasures of my life on bookshelves and tucked under my bed. You will think it was excess. But if you look before you throw it away you might find the treasure of love folded and tucked between sheets of unused fabric, you will find my sanity and my peace there, you will find my heart.