“If you need Anything Please let me Know.”

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This was a rough week. I lost a loved one. Death is always hard and painful. We have all been there. I wanted to crawl up in a chair and sleep, and I probably would have if my friends hadn’t been there for me. I’m so grateful for they’re support. I know it was nothing they could do or say to help ease the pain, but knowing they were there, and the care they showed; meant the world to me.  

Throughout this week I received calls, and emails, and online posts from old friends and acquaintances. All of the correspondence had one line in common. “If you need anything please let me know.” I heard this phrase or read it at least a hundred times. We all have said it. It’s the customary verbiage when someone dies. It’s usually spoken with love and genuine concern, but after a while it started to sound robotic. I started to wonder what would happen, if I said, “Yes, can you help me with this…?”  I mean does anyone ever respond with a request for help when asked this question. It wasn’t that I didn’t need the assistance, but I was still dealing with the loss. In hind sight I wish would have had the mind to say, “Can you give me a little space and check back in a few weeks maybe.”

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but when you’re in the mix of grief and sorrow you don’t have any idea what you need. I couldn’t verbalize wants and needs it was way soon. So, I have learned from this experience: give the grieving person time to figure out what they’re new normal will look like, then offer assistance.

A friend of mine suggested, “Instead of saying I don’t need anything, or no I’m fine. Why not offer suggestions to friends that want to help, give them a way to feel like they’re taking a part of your grief.”

People want to feel needed. Offer suggestions:

  • Can you pray with me?
  • Provide a listening ear. It is so comforting to talk about the good times you had with the deceased.
  • Please check back with me in a few weeks.
  • Send money, don’t ask, just put the money in a card, Cash App, or slip it in a hand. The money will be much appreciated. There are a million things that come up during this time.

I’m not in any hurry to use any of her suggestions, but it comforting to know that she was listening and she cared.

A Fresh Perspective

    “We arrived in Baton Rouge at night.  The lights shining on the water took my breath away.”   The Setup, Denise Montgomery 2015

I went on a road trip a couple of weeks ago to Baton Rouge LA. I drove down with a friend of mine. She called me on Monday. She asked if I could be ready on Thursday evening. To be quite honest, I could have been ready Tuesday morning. I think you get the picture; I was ready to get out of town.

She reminded me that Baton Rouge is over six hours from my home. The long drive didn’t bother me in the least. I was thrilled about traveling, getting away, finally seeing something new. Quite frankly, she could has said 15 hours it wouldn’t have mattered. I have been stuck at home since March; a weekend getaway was just what the doctor ordered.

My new normal was getting on my nerves. I longed to see, hear, and smell new things. We reached Baton Rouge around 11:00 pm. If you’ve ever driven down I-10 west into Baton Rouge then you know the bridge that crosses The Mississippi River into the city. I visited Baton Rouge in 2015, so I remembered it being at this point of the journey, but I wasn’t prepared for the sight of this massive structure sticking its head up through the darkness with such intensity, with the river flowing endlessly in both directions down below. It’s a good thing I wasn’t driving, because I would have stopped the car in the middle of the bridge to take it all it. To say it was exhilarating would be an understatement.

We had a wonderful time during our visit. I drove home on Sunday afternoon. I wanted to take in all the scenery to have something to hold onto before going back to those dead drab days of Covid 19 lockdown.

Going out of town was an eye opening experience. It’s good to look at old situations from a fresh perspective. It’s time we looked at the current state of affairs in America with a fresh pair of eyes. Now is the time that we walk away from those old ideologies of the past. We have to start having those hard uncomfortable conversations about race relations and the way we treat people in this country. We’re all Americans. We shouldn’t have to protest and march in the streets to declare that Black Lives Matter. Why is it necessary that men have to die to get the attention of the powers that be? We shouldn’t have to put children in cages on the border to stop illegal immigration. I don’t pretend to know the answers to these questions. But I know the answers will come when we have the conversation.

There is a better way, but we have to communicate and find common ground to begin building new bridges to better treatment of all Americans.

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Beyond Just Words

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the manner in which we communicate with one another. How can there be unity without communication? If we can’t sit down and have a civil conversation with each other where everyone’s views are appreciated, where does that leave us.

We have to listen to one another, share opinions, and respect differences.

There are different forms of communi cation, body language being one. Imagine yourself in a conversation, your arms are folded across your chest and you have a scowl on your face, but you’re insisting you’re alright. Where is the conversation iminating from, your body is doing the talking. Body language is crucial to communication it’s silent unspoken communication. Your body and your mouth are not in agreement.

Let’s look at communication in our daily routines. How are you communicating with the people you run into on a daily basis, Starbucks, the grocery store, or the gas station. I can’t remember the last time I took the time to stop and have a conversation with someone in the line at Walmart. We are we so afraid to talk to one another now? Is it just the virus or others issues in our society. I’m praying this virus doesn’t cause us lose the art of casual conversation. Believe me, I know it’s kind of hard to have a conversation while we’re all wearing masks, but you get my point.

Words do matter. It does matter to people what you say, and it matters how you say it, watch your tone. Everyone deserves to be heard and understood, but we don’t have to yell and scream at one another. Have you ever looked at someone and maybe you considered saying something and you thought, no I think I’ll wait before I approach them, because you knew from just looking at them that now was not a good time. What kind of energy are you giving off? Please don’t let your emotions control you and stop you from communicating.

A few months ago I was in Walmart ago, when everything was normal. I had a few items in my basket. When I got to the register there was an older gentleman and his wife behind me. I turned and started a conversation with them they seemed so delighted that someone took the time to take interest. When it was my time at the register, the husband paid for my items. When I asked why, he said it was because I was so pleasant and kind. I think that’s the one thing I hate most about the mask, I miss seeing the smiles and I miss the conversations.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

  Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away  wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

This is NOT the Way!

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The CoronaVirus has been in total contol of the airways and social media for the past four months. Every day we have to hear about the rising death toll in America. The virus showed no mercy. It didn’t discriminate; it showed up took it’s victim, black, white, young or old; it simply didn’t care. And for a brief time Americans were working together to defeat a common enemy. We were all staying home battling this foreigh invader and praying; and God heard our prayers. We caught a break things started to reopen and we could breath just a little bit better.

Then things came to a halt, Ahmaud Arbery is gunned down as he takes a jog through his neighborhood. We’re still reeeling from that blow, then BAM! We have to deal with the horrible images coming out of Minneapolis, not just the senseless killing of George Floyld which should be left to the justice system to handle. No I’m referring to the senseless rioting, looting and burning of property which serves absolutely no purpose. Nothing useful can come out of chaos. The burning of the businesses will only result in more unemployment. The neighborhood will suffer, because those businesses will not return. Didn’t we learn anything from the 1965 riot in Watts. Violence begats violence. I guess not. Most of the people participating in the protest probably weren’t even born when the riot occured.

Yes, it was hard to watch the images of a person’s life being snuffed out by a police officer. To witness George Floyd pleading for air is heart wrenching. I’ve been in constant pray for his family as well as the city of Minneapolis. Of course I’m outraged but I’ve lived long enough to know that riots don’t work. Tearing up our own neighborhood is foolish and will do nothing to fix the problem, that doesn’t mean we have to remain quiet. Change can only come through communication.

On the other hand, should we all just sit around and break out in a chorus of We Shall Overcome, no not happending. Should the men responsible be given a fair trial and bought to justice, a resounding yes. We have got to start a dialogue about the real issues that are facing this country. But until then I choose to trust and believe in a God of justice. Maybe I’m naive to believe that things can get better; I certainly hope not. We have a whole generation of young people looking at us; as they wait for us to show them the way. Is this really what we want them to learn?

Romans 13  1-2 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Are We There, Yet?

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I was volunteering at a homeless shelter last year when I wrote the post below. I remember how disturbed I was at the number of homeless people that were sleeping outside on the sidewalk and under the bridge; they couldn’t get in. Today that homeless shelter is closed; 19 of the resident tested positive for COVID 19. The city moved most of them to a hotel, unitl something better could be arranged. I guess you could say they were the lucky ones. That’s not the case in most larger cities around the country, according to the Washington Post. Many mayors have run into resistance when placing homeless individuals in hotels. Stating that hotels are not zoned for that purpose. Meanwhile, hundreds of rooms sit vacant and people are dying on the street.

The homeless are more suceptible to the virus because many of them have underlying health issues. By they time they do manage to get tested or receieve any assistance it can be too late. I know this country and many countries around the world are burdened with other issues, but this issue is not going away. The number of infected homeless individuals is growing every day. When you put things in perspective it’s kind of hard to shelter in place, stay at home, when you don’t have a home.

Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Loosing It May 29, 2019

Have you ever lost something, but you didn’t realize how valuable it was until it wasn’t there any longer. I have been working on another book for the past two months.  I couldn’t locate the file. I panicked. I searched my computer from top to bottom. I broke out in a cold sweat. My eyes began to water. When I calmed down and prayed I realized  I had placed the file in another folder.

Now just imagine how you would feel if you lost your home. A comfortable home or even if it wasn’t comfortable you had a roof over you head. Suddenly, you are homeless. How would you cope? What would you do? Go to a shelter? If you are fortunate enough to get in. There are only so many beds available for women.   Statistics show that women are the fastest growing  group of homeless victims. Domestic violence is the primary reason.  In some cases, it’s due to lack of healthcare, or a loss of public assistance.  The growing number of homeless women is steadily climbing daily.  So what can we do?  Pray, of course. Lend a helping hand when possible. Partner with an organization that is trying to make a difference. But for God’s sake please do something. These women need you.

The Post

Spring time by the lake.

May 19, 2013

“The seasons of the year change, just as surely as the seasons of life. Don’t get to comfortable in one season so that you miss the move of God for the present season.” Facebook Post from my page.

Am I the only one that loves the memory posts from Facebook. They alway seem to come at the right time. Such is the case with the post above. Usually I read them and go on about my business. If it’s relevant to something I’m dealing with I share it with a friend, but this one was different. I don’t know why seeing this particular memory post from 2013 bothered me so much, but it did. I couldn’t shake it loose from my thoughts. I thought about it all day.

It was about 7:30 this morning when I read the post. I grabbed my phone, sat up in bed and began my normal routine. I looked at the time, the weather, and Facebook; what better way to see what’s going on in the world. It was the first thing in my feed. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few minutes; and wondered why did this post pop up now? Is God trying to get my attention? Questions tumbled through my head. Have I become comfortable? Am I missing a move of God? What should I be doing during this season? I been home for three months. The days all seem the same. Sometimes I don’t even know what day it is, and it really doesn’t matter they all look the same. I understand why everyone is in a rush to get back to work and some resemblance of normal; the monotony is driving me crazy. I live alone there is just so much cleaning I can do. I’ve binged watch all the shows on Netflix. I’ve made calls to all my friends, i’ve worked in the yard, I’ve done volunteer work virtually. When I finally calmed down. I realized that this post is just a reminder from God, “Hey don’t get too comfortable, this season is not going to last, it’s coming to a close, you still have things to get done.Get ready for the change.” I got out the vision board that I made at the beginning of the year. One glance at that board,my work is not done. I don’t have time to get comfortable. My season is about to change.

A Mother’s Day Gift

Today is Mother’s Day. My son came by. Our tradition for the past five years or since he became gamefully employed is that he takes me out to a restaurant of my choosing. Well with things being what they are we decided against going out to sit in a restaurant. No, I didn’t cook. I wasn’t letting him get off that easy. We drove to the restaurant and picked up the order. But before we left to get the food, we talked. Before I tell you about our talk let me start by saying I’m a single parent. Like so many other single parents who carry the role of mother and father, I have spent countless nights praying and wondering if I was doing or saying the right thing. Did I present my son with enough positive role models? Did he get to see enough Godly examples of manhood? Today I got a chance to see the fruit of my labor. Back to our conversation; I mean a real conversation. We talked about life, employment, his present relationship; which is really a touchy subject because he thinks I don’t like the young lady. I might add I don’t have a problem with her as long as she makes him happy. I looked at him standing tall and confident telling me his plans for the future I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment that I am eternally grateful for. We continued to talk a while longer I think we were both feeling very comfortable. I don’t know if it was because I’m getting older, or I’m more appreciative of the time I have left. It could be he is finally at an age where he can listen to me without thinking I’m trying to run his life. What ever the case may be, thank you Lord. At one point, during the evening he took out his phone and did a short video of me, said he just wanted to have a video of me in his phone. I’m not a superstitious person, but I couldn’t help but wonder does he think I’m on my way out of here? I had to reassure him that I don’t plan on leaving up out of here for quite sometimes. I have to see my grand children. As he was leaving I thought to myself, when did this happen? In the course of 27 years my son has become everything I prayed and hoped he would become: a decent, caring and kind human being. I’m so glad I had a hand in that?

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

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This is Not the Time.

Whew! This week has been one for the history books. I can’t remember a time when I lost four friends in one week. No, none of the deaths were from the virus all four of the individuals had either succumbed to an illness or got sick a while ago. That said, it hurt even more with everything else that’s happening all around us. It was just last week I was blogging about how we are all doing a great job of showing love and kindness to one another. Every day I’m reading or hearing about something extraordinary happening in the midst of this pandemic. We can not take life for granted, we can not make assumptions, we can’t leave things unsaid for tomorrow; for lack of a better way of saying it: Life is too short. So, after I got over my shock, I realized this is not the time to go hide and throw myself a pity party; especially when I would have to have a pint of chocolate almond ice cream to go with it. No, now is the time to be grateful, and show gratitute and appreciation to those around me.

It’ s just like God to have you practice what you preach. His lessons always come through some simple every day task. Case in point: I was in line at Walmart. You know you have to keep your distance, and I thought I was doing a pretty good job. The customer in front of me was putting the last of his groceries in his cart. I was still over six feet away. The young clerk yelled, “Maam you need to get back.” I looked down at the floor I was standing on the spot indicated on the floor, so I’m wondering what the heck. It’s hard to tell behind the mask, but I’m becoming frustrated, I’m ready to go into defense mode. “Sir I’m standing on the spot.” The clerk continued to argue with me. All of this is happening while the store is blaring the announcement, “Customers please remember to maintain correct social distancing.” This is just a bit too much. Before I could say another word, I hear that still small voice whisper in my ear, “Now is not the time.” Suffice it to say I got my groceries and I left. I realized I wasn’t angry with the young man; I was angry with the situation. Shopping at Walmart has always been the highlight of my week, but this is my not my normal shopping experience. I want normal again. I want to walk through the store and look at my fellow shopper and we all not look like bandits. I know, I get it, it’s not about me; I realize this is not the time.

Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind the, saying , This is the way, walk ye in it…

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We’re All in this Together!

I was home Saturday morning like i’m sure so many of you are with the Shelter In Place order. There was a knock at my door, a member of my chruch was standing in the doorway smiling with a large box of food. It was totally unexpected. There was so much food in the box I had enough to share with a shelter that I support, a friend of mine and my son. The church called me on on Sunday to make sure I had enough food. Convinced that I didn’t have enough the associate pastor asked my son was I telling him the truth; my son convinced hism that I was doing fine and added in that he didn’t need any food. The pastor’s eagerness to give was so apparent. It’s not hard to find someone in need, so I told him about an elderly neighbor of mine. I thought to myself he’ll bring by a box similar to the one I had received. No instead he insisted on going to the grocery store to get additional food. I should add my church is known for its generous spirit in a times of need. I was grateful to be a help to someone else, but I couldn’t help but wonder: what will it take for this spirit of giving and helping one another to continue? Will be all go back to our our old “Take care of me and my family selves?” God forbid. There have been countless accounts of people going out of their way to share kindness and love. Corporations have donated millions to the poor. Fruits and vegetables have been gathered and driven to other states to make sure all American are fed. We’re finally reaching out to others in need. If you haven’t noticed the murder rate has dropped, the air is cleaner.

If we don’t retain but one lesson from this pandemic its WE NEED EACH OTHER. We are better together than we are apart. I’m not blind to the death and the sickness that is happening every where. I’m praying for a cure for this horrible virus. I just hope that we can reap some of the benefits that have come out of this crisis. Could that be what God wants us to gather from this? I hope we don’t slip back in to our old ways. We are our brothers keeper.

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This is not about YOU!

I was having one of those days. I was tired of being at home, locked in, and isolated. I needed somebody to complain to. I called up a friend of mine after a few minutes I realized she was going through the same thing; which wasn’t helping. In times past when i’m feeling this way I realize that God is speaking to me about something. I sat down with my daily reading and a scripture jumped off the page. Jeremiah 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?

I am not alone, yes isolated, but never alone. God is there. It’s during these times we have to adopt an attitude of graditude. Now is not the time to complain. When I realized that this situation is not just about me and I need to stop with the pity party; I know there is a lot more that I could be doing for people in need. Maybe I can’t leave the house, but that doesn’t stop me from calling, texting and emailing. We all need to find ways to assist each other through this crisis. I know for sure that God is reassuring me that he has this situation. For now I am exploring ways that I can be of service to others. A friend of mind told me she took the time to meet her neighbors, she has been living in the neighborhood for five years. It was then that I realized that our present situation of sheltering is place is not just about me. God is at hand, and he wants your attention. Don’t worry He’s God This!

When you are at home alone use your time wisely; let loose and be as creative. I’m getting back to basics. I’ve always enjoyed planting and working in my yard. So I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and onions. I didn’t say I was good at this. I killed the tomatoes and the beans, but I didn’t give up. I’m on the second round and they’re doing much better. I will get a new garden out of this crisis.