Life

Because sometimes things don’t fit so neatly into categories.

December Blogtember

If you have followed my blog at all this year, thank you. I write from my heart and experience. However, I know I hyperfocus on the melancholy and complexity of simple things. It’s a flaw. This year has been difficult for me. The last time, I had a year this struggle-ridden a friend sent me a link to something called Blog-tember where I was given prompts on different topics.

It has been three years since my last Blog-tember and about five years since, I started this blog. I’ve decided for the month of December to post daily with prompts. I may post other things, but I want to do something light. Also, prompts generate creativity.

So, stay close and attentive, and enjoy Blogtember.

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First Rain Since Harvey Left

It is the first rain since Harvey departed. In his wake, he left ruins that still remain unbuilt. As disastrous as the Houston landscape has been it was merely been a physical representation of the human heart. I have been gutted. Noahic flooding that seems like judgment, but actually is healing. Personally, I still don’t know what to make of a hurricane that felt like that of a Grecian epic. I don’t think it is mine to decipher. I am not the one who controls it.

God is the Author. He is quite the Author, but such an interesting Reader and Listener to the story as well. He placed Himself in it momentarily, but it has always been about Him. He is a mysterious Author. The best books are the one that leaves me wondering what the author was trying to tell me. He has left a Commentary who teaches, but even then, mystery. Divine and material mystery.

I have gone through the gamut of human emotions since Harvey.

Sorrow. Anger. Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Anger. Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Displacement. Fear.

Fear.

Those have been my most persistent friends in this season. They are terrible friends; they leech themselves onto me. As I turn to them, they turn on me. I don’t think they have all departed. I still think they linger, but in this moment, I have felt something I have not felt since the flood waters rose.

Hope.

It was by way of a woman I have always admired. How kind is God in the midst of ruins to sift through the rubble.

Good Father,

I am devastated, in both definitions of the word. I have looked inward for so long, that I have lost sight. Your truth is so simple. Your call is so clear. My cross is so much. Teach me to trust. Teach me to bear burdens better. Remind me that you are both the Builder and the Cornerstone. When I burrow into the complexities of the human ego, remind me of the simplicity of the Gospel.

The Good News is the hope for those who have fear.

The Good News is a refuge for those who are displaced.

The Good News is reclamation for those who feel abandoned.

The Good News is gratitude in a heart that envies what is not hers.

The Good News is penitence in the place of shame.

The Good News is the hope of companionship for those who are burdened with loneliness.

The Good News is understanding rather than anger.

The Good News is joy in the middle of sorrow.

I am not fully “telos-ed” by the Gospel today. I will not know if I will be tomorrow, but Mrs. Ellen, thank you for the reminder. I don’t know if you will ever read these words but bless you.

In Christ. By Way of the Spirit. Directed to the Father.

Amen

Hope.

Hope. Refuge.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship. Understanding.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship. Understanding. Joy

Specified Lamenting

Sleep. Silence. Wake. Silence. Aldi. Silence. HEB. Silence. Clean. Silence.

A year ago my life was bursting with people. Busy was my normal pace. I packed in school and work and social obligations. I used busyness as a means of avoidance. I became hyper-productive. I still am. You can occasionally catch me in the office until 3 AM working on God-knows-what. Using the justification, it has to get done. People let me get away with it. I don’t really want them to, but everyone has their own busyness going on and I don’t feel the need to infringe.

People get into these rhythms. My weekend rhythm is empty most times. The peak of my excitement is the trip to the grocery stores. I go to Aldi and HEB. While standing in the checkout aisle (in Aldi), I longed for someone to share this rhythm with. I longed for someone to interrupt my rhythm with their own. I longed for a harmonious melody, where two sounds become one song, with seasons of discord of course, but one nonetheless. This thought carried to HEB. I stroll down the aisles mindlessly with tremendous amounts of time to waste, knowing I am only coming home to laundry and meal prep.

It gets exhausting telling God about your longings. I mean. We both know He already knows. Why does He even care to hear them? Why do I have to say them? Do, I even need to say them? Does God give me longings that will remain unmet? I think He does. Why would He do that? He is not cruel. I know He isn’t.

All the while, I hear the phantom whispers of well-meaning Christian singles and their leaders questioning my satisfaction and contentedness in the Lord. Stupid cliches about Jesus being their boyfriend or that they’re dating Jesus. Sarcastically, thinking in my head…“You don’t get to make out with Jesus like you would a human”. Then feeling condemned because positive female sexuality is not really a Wednesday night Bible study class offered in the church. Or people reminding me to live in a community that practices vulnerability. (insert eye roll). Maybe it’s not the community. Maybe it’s me.

I digress…

I don’t know, there was not really a point to all of this. I just felt these words ruminating in my mind over the course of two hours. And, I needed them to come out before I went to bed. Perhaps, I will find God in all of this. I am more hopeful that He finds me. I have not been searching for him. I am feeling a like the one lost sheep and really need my Shepherd to come along. I am a dumb creature, privy to falling off cliffs and being attacked. Please find me, Shepherd.

Words. Rest. Breathe. Rest. Post. Rest. Come rest.

Lenten Prayer #4: Lust of the Eyes

Vision is the most two-faced of the senses. Eyes open to landscapes of mountains grandeur and beaches and city skylines illuminating night skies. Eyes open to violence and sex and corruption. I can’t stop seeing things. Even, if I wanted to, I can’t stop seeing. I can stop looking. The temptation to pluck my eyes out is ever-present. My seeing has turned to looking. My looking has turned to pictures and images branded to my brain. I cannot erase them.

Father, 

Create in me a clean heart. Create in me clean eyes. Create in me clear vision. Help my see, without looking for too long. Help me look with shock at evil. Help me not search for evil. My eyes lead me to temptation. Keep me from falling into temptation. I need the One greater than myself to save me again.  

Christ have mercy. Spirit fill me.  

Amen

Race, Beauty, and Hope

The predominant culture suggests normative black features are not attractive. Because of this in the dating realm, black women finish dead last. OKCupid has a study affirming this. While, it is not explicitly stated: “men find black women unattractive”. My assumption is that they don’t. Rounded noses and darker skin are not particularly “in”. Full lips are currently “in” but as a trend. Like thick brows are “in”.

In the past seven days, I have had two conversations with a friend about race and beauty and attraction. They are hard conversations. Not only for the content, but we are distinguishable by both race and gender. Which is not bad, but often you have to explain things that may be inherent to a person who was black and/or a female. Though difficult, I find the conversations refreshing. I process things through them. This blog is not so much about the feelings of unattractiveness or the conversations had with my friend. However, both serve as a black drop to something significant that took place on a warm Saturday afternoon.

I was sitting my Houston mom’s hair salon playing with my cousins. Which is a sight. I’m an African-American and my mom and cousins are white. She takes a break from doing hair. I sit in the chair and my 12-year-old cousin begins pampering me with a massage. It was legit. My 9-year-old cousin comes over and begins to look at my hair. She politely asks if she can touch it.

“Yes. Thank you for asking.”

She continually says how soft and fluffy it is. Fascinated, she gets some Morrocan oil and places it on my hair. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I have my shoulders and arms massaged, my hair oiled and brushed, and my looks affirmed in a really special way.

What makes this interaction so distinguishable from others, is that my sweet cousins whose skin is so much lighter than mine, think I am beautiful. Not for a black person, but as a person who God created. While, they are old enough to know we look different, there was not this elitism in them. I sit on the couch and my 9-year-old cousin snuggles up with me. She looks at my lips and calls them pretty.

I wish my lips were bigger like yours.” She pouts trying to make them bigger.

“I think your lips are perfect for the face God gave you.” 

The rest of our time is spent snuggling on the couch catching naps at 2 in the afternoon. I don’t know how these sweet children learned to love diversity at such a young age, but it gives me hope.

There is a coming day where there will be no narrative of black women being unattractive. Because our biased expressions and representations of beauty will disappear. Humanity will understand that our racial diversity, our various nose shapes and hair textures, our crooked smiles and pearly whites, our physical differences scream of a divine Creator who loves and revels in variety and in diversity. Who loves the porcelain skin of Scandinavians, the almond eyes of Asians, the raven black tresses of Native-Americans, the warm skin of Latinos, and the rounded noses of African people. I felt that hope today.

I felt that hope today.

It was beautiful.

Gracious to Me

In an instant, emotions billow over me. They consume me. It’s scary. A simple tugboat amid the crashing waves, I am jolted into a storm threatening to capsize my humble vessel. These storms persist over weeks and months. Lighter rain pours, but this is not relief. After a four month midnight, overcast comes. I welcome it. I welcome drab without dismal. It’s not luxury but livable.

The sun’s presence is felt before it appears. Warmth fills the damp air. Humidity has no place and evaporates like my sorrow. The flame casts out the clouds and resumes its shine with the radiant blue sky.

This happened today. What continuously runs through my mind are these thoughts.

Strangers are gracious to me.

Friends are gracious to me.

God’s gracious to me.

All of this is a gift, I have discounted. I have been well loved by a gracious handful of people who have born and been beaten by my billows. I am humbled to be a recipient of their love and grace. Thanks for giving it even when I wasn’t aware. It washed over me today, and was compelled to share.

Faithfulness over Funk

If you have followed my last 10 blog posts, they have been riddled with a growing amount of angst, despair, frustration, and sorrow. All-in-all, I have been in a funk. I don’t know how I got there or why I am there, but I have quit looking for answers (for now). It does not seem beneficial to continue mulling around the same set of details awaiting for a Da Vinci Code style revelation to appear. After 3 months of it, I consider it a massive waste of time. Rather, I have come to this conclusion:

God cares about the funk I am in. However, the more I reflect on marriage, the more, I grow in understanding my relationship with the Lord. I feel like all relationships go through a funk phase. Where someone in the relationship, just can’t pull themselves into the emotional desire to do or be all they have to do or be. I think it is in those moments, you remember the vows once made. While, the wedding day is filled will romance and aesthetics, it is a day of choice. You choose faithfulness and devotion in all situations: rich, poor, sick, well, better, worse. Some years ago, I chose. I chose union to God. I chose a write-in into a better and harder story. I chose Him. He chose me.

Funk is my worse. Funk is where I question my faithfulness to the relationship. Funk is where, I don’t have the desire to go through the monotony of being united: reading, prayer, meditation. I yearn for the earlier days filled with nostalgia. Where simply singing a song made me weep. Where, I would pray for hours, enjoying both the speaking and the listening. Where, I would read and hear Your Voice telling me Your Story. Where, my heart changed constantly. Where, I felt You all around and saw You in nature and tragedy and people. I miss it. I miss You. This is where we are. While, my vow to you didn’t promise all those things, I will persevere in faithfulness.

I am grateful, You remain faithful even when I am not. I am more like Gomer than, I want to admit.