21 August 2009

It's all so confusing....

I have to first make a disclaimer: I am a writer and therefore, a lover of the written word. An avid reader, journal keeper, poetry writing, trying to do a blog on a regular basis kind of writer. I had pen pals as a child and (hold on to your seats), still send out personal notes to people "just because". But (in my opinion), the fine art of writing and literary appreciation is going down the crapper at an alarming rate!

I am a Facebook addict (as everyone who knows me knows) but I find myself cringing more and more each day as people (and it ain't just the young kids either who fall guilty to what I am about to say) use broken grammar, misspelled words, no punctuation, acronyms and all kinds of other faulty writing tools in their attempts to communicate with the world. Let me tell you something people, if I have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what the heck you are saying, I am most likely going to ignore your post, your message, your page. And then your feelings are gonna be all hurt because you feel I am not giving you the proper attention and respect...in advance, here's my apology: sorry.

Some acroymns are commonplace now. We all know what "lol" (laugh out loud); "smh" (shaking my head) and "lmbo" (laughing my butt off) mean - but lately, people have been taking it to the extreme. "HAGD" and "ROFLMAOCYTF" are ones that recently had me going "WTH" (interpretations: "have a great day"; "rolling on floor laughing my ass off cause you too funny" (ok, I made that one up to prove my point) and "what the heck/hell") I mean, really people. It may be quicker/easier to just type the acronym, but if nobody understands what you are saying, what is the point?

It's just like the gift of tongues spoken about in the Bible. There is more to it than just speaking in a language other than the one you normally speak. Somebody listening to you has to be able to understand what you are saying! And my further understanding of the gift of tongues is that when the apostles did it on the day of Pentacost in Acts, they spoke in their language - the listeners heard it in their own language. In other words, I speak in English, but as you listen to me, you hear it in French or Spanish or Portgugese - whatever your natural language is. Not the whole "whostoleamyHonda" stuff that goes on in some situations/churches, etc. (Nothing against people who believe differently than I do - just a statement in general.)

And don't underestimate the power of language/communication. When, after the flood, the people on Earth decided to build a tower that reached heaven so they would never be victim to another flood again, God confused the language to stop the construction. If you ask for a hammer and get a box of nails instead, I think that would quickly put a stop to any construction project, don't you? [Read Genesis 11:1-9 for the full story]

All I'm saying people is this: communication is a two way street. If you want people to hear you/understand what you are saying - speak it in a way that is understandable. Now, having said all that: HAGD and GBY - LY!MI!

("Have a great day and God bless you. Love you! Mean it!)
Be blessed.

19 August 2009

A Sister's View...

This story really is not mine to tell - it's my brother's, but as his older sister, I have to say something.

I got a chilling phone call from my brother today. He was shopping in a nationwide retail chain store. (I won't name it but it starts with a W, ends with a T, seven letters long, you figure it out). He was in there shopping when he decided to stop and try out the Dr. Scholl's display. (You know, the one where you can figure out which orthopedic support is best for your feet...) Anyway, he's there, awaiting his turn when he strikes up a conversation with the woman in front of him. Out of nowhere, another woman approaches, ignores my brother, and speaking directly to the woman in front of my brother says, "You really should be more careful with your purse around certain people and maybe you need to put your purse on your shoulder instead of leaving it in your cart like that." WHAT!? If you know my brother, and his flash point temper, you (like me) are cringing in your seat as you read this going, "Oh my God! Is Kevin in jail for murder? Where can I send funds for his trial and criminal defense." Let me stop and tell you GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!

According to my brother (and I have to believe him since he called me from his car and not from a jail cell), he calmly turned to the second lady and said, "Excuse me, but I am not interested in this woman's purse or anything she may have in it and I resent that you would imply something like that based solely on the color of my skin." [Oh, did I forget to mention that BOTH of the women involved in this story were White and my brother is not? But I digress - back to that point in a minute] Before it was all over, the second woman had called over store security and by the time Kevin left the store, had even contacted the police outside the store. Now mind you - the FIRST woman never complained, never felt threatened, and even said this to the store security. All of this came from a SECOND woman who just happened to walk by and for some reason of her own, felt threatened by my brother.

On my brother's behalf, I feel angry, disappointed, angry, disgusted - did I mention angry? Why, even in 2009, do we still judge people by the color of his/her skin? Was there something in the demeanor of a barefooted Black man that makes a woman walking by think (1) that another woman was in danger of getting robbed and (2) that she needed to speak up about it in such a mean way? I told my brother then (and I mean it with all my heart) - you couldn't PAY me to be a Black man in America. Never. Reminds me of an incident YEARS ago when I was walking through a store with my youngest brother Scott and we immediately attracted a walking escort of store security. Scott must have been about 14 years old at the time and when I mentioned our sudden escort, his nonchalant response was, "yeah, that happens all the time. They think we are going to steal something so they always follow me and my friends around the store." REALLY?

That was back sometime in the '80s. But it's 2009 - we have our first African-American President - and yet, my brother still has to hold onto his temper because some misguided woman looked at him, saw a Black man, and decided he was a threat. When will it change? Will it ever change? I had hope in November when Obama was elected and I saw the crowd of people who gathered in the park - the diversity, the joy on everyone's faces - I looked at that and thought, maybe things are changing for the better. But I'm not so very sure anymore. [But then again, I just read pages and pages of people debating whether Michelle Obama exhibited "proper discretion befitting a First Lady" by wearing shorts while on vacation with her family at the Grand Canyon. I think our priorities are all screwed up.]

From a sister's point of view - I'm glad my brother held onto his temper. I'm glad I didn't have to gather bail money. I'm glad I didn't have to spend time sitting at a police station waiting for him to be released - or worse, that I didn't have to identify his body at a morgue if things had gone terribly wrong. And let's not pretend that things like that don't happen - especially in the South.

But most of all, I am sorry that he even had to call me to tell me this story...today...in 2009...when I thought things were getting better.

Be blessed.

15 August 2009

Sunrise at Sunset Beach

I am in St. George Island, FL to help my friend Shana celebrate her wedding to her long time friend and love of her life, Mike. It was a harrowing adventure getting here, as I am fighting a cold and my mapping website was less than correct with its directions. After getting lost 3 times and wasting time in the process, I finally arrived at my destination 3 hours later than I thought I would. Nothing like going across a 4.5 mile bridge over murky waters in the dark - especially when the sign right before you get on the bridge says, "Watch for birds". Are you serious?!

I checked into my room at the quaint and historic St. George Inn. The innkeeper, a lovely lady named Jan, was very nice and upgraded me from my original reservation due to an air conditioning malfunction. Yeah, me! I have a nice room on the first floor with a wide wrap around veranda and rocking chairs. I'll have to make use of those at some point today.

Took me some time to decompress and relax last night - lots of strange noises from the other people staying in the inn and from the nightclub/honky tonk/dive down the road. I finally closed my eyes around 1:00 this morning, only for them to pop wide open again before 6:00a. What's a girl to do, but get up and head to the beach to see the sunrise. (This also gave me an excuse to explore the 6 miles of the island that is open to the public - the rest is private property for people like Jimmy Buffet, Angelina Jolie, etc. Wonder if any of them are here this weekend?)

So, I headed to Sunset Beach, where later today, Shana and Mike will say their "I do"s or something equally appropriate. I used to debate as to whether I liked sunrises or sunsets better, but I think I have decided that I like sunsets better. Nothing against God's way of saying, "Good morning", but the colors are not as vibrant and rich at 6:00 in the morning as they are at the close of the day...or maybe I wasn't awake enough to appreciate it.

I had the beach pretty much to myself, although I did see people stirring on their balconies and watching the sunrise from the comfort of a deck chair with a cup of coffee in hand. (Can you say "envious"?) I'm sure they were watching me thinking, "she is a little crazy to be standing in that water at this time of the morning - and is she taking pictures? what is wrong with her?" But that was how I started my morning...and I liked it. Pictures on Facebook if you want to see them.

Now, where can a sista get breakfast on this island?

Be blessed.

11 August 2009


I just got back from my family reunion in Charleston, SC. This was the reunion of my paternal grandfather's family - most of whom I met for the first time in my memory. My mother tells me that I attended a family reunion for this branch of the family in the 1970's, but I was less than 10 years old then, so I don't remember. What a wonderful experience to connect with a new group of people.

One of the events on Saturday was a game night. Kudos to my new found cousin, Sonya, whose task it was to find entertainment for "children of all ages" - from as young as 4 or 5 to as "young" as 80+. She did an excellent job - with group participation games, Wii, spades, Phase 10, and musical chairs, which is the subject of this blog. When Sonya announced musical chairs, I am sure she intended it to be for just the little kids - but uh...several of my generation of family members (including me) joined in the fun. And we had no mercy on the youngsters. In fact, one cousin (who shall remain nameless) bumped his own child off a chair in order that he (the grown up) would not be eliminated from the game! It was brutal. I was knocked out about 4 people before the champion, so I had a pretty good show.

But I want to talk about my little cousin Elijah. Elijah is 3 or 4 years old (I never got his age), but he was ALL INTO the game! He was running around, grabbing chairs as the music stopped and beating some adults in the game. He was right in front of me and I must admit, I was watching him and trying to help a brotha out. But as the chairs dwindled down and the competition got fierce, more of the space on the floor was exposed and there was a bright yellow sticker with a happy face on it stuck to the carpet. For some reason, this sticker caught Elijah's eye as he rounded the corner and he stopped - went back and tried to get the sticker. His father was yelling at him from the sidelines "Elijah, forget about the sticker - stay in the game!" But Elijah had focused on the sticker and the game was no longer of any importance to him. When the music stopped, although an empty chair was his for the taking, by focusing on the sticker, he was eliminated from the game. Sticker in hand, he looked up only to realize his chance at winning had disappeared with the fading sounds of Michael Jackson's "ABC".

I thought about this a couple of times after the festivities of Saturday night were over and wondered, how many times have we missed out on the prize because we have focused on something trivial? How many blessings has God prepared for us - right there within our reach - that we have missed out on because we have been distracted by that man or woman we thought was "the one" - or a job that we thought would be fulfilling - or...well, you fill in the blank - you know what has distracted you from your goals in the past - and maybe even right now as you read this, you are distracted by a trivial bright yellow sticker on the carpet.

I encourage you to "keep your eyes on the prize." Our Heavenly Father is standing on the sidelines shouting, "Forget about that...stay in the game! Keep your focus on Me!" We need to take heed. Time is swiftly coming to an end. And in the words of my friends, gospel group Take 6, we only have a "few more miles to go." Don't lose out on the ultimate prize - salvation in Christ Jesus - because you have been distracted by something worthless and trivial. Pray for me as I pray for you that we will all keep focused and stay in the game until Jesus returns to take us home with Him.

Be blessed.

02 August 2009

When we all get to heaven...

...what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory"

2009 has been a rough year...especially this summer. It's getting to the point where I don't want to answer the phone, check voice mail, look at my friends' Facebook pages, nothing - because the angel of death is busy. Busier than he has ever been. In the months of June/July alone, my family lost 2 cousins and an uncle to death. And last week, 4 people I know died. 4! In a week. I feel like the wicked witch in THE WIZ, "don't nobody bring me no bad news!!"

My mother and I have talked about this. As a retired woman with free flight benefits (thanks to my brother Kevin), my mom has been the designated funeral attendee for a lot of family and friends funerals this year. In one month, she attended 7 funerals. That is a lot of saying goodbye to folks. And the reality is...as we get older and time gets shorter, this will be happening more and more frequently. At my cousin Janie's funeral over the 4th of July holiday, I took lots and lots of pictures of my maternal grandmother's siblings who are still alive. They range in age from 79 to 94. What a blessing that they are still here, but it is just a fact of life, that will not always be the case.

So, how do you deal? How do you handle the saying goodbye over and over? How do you comfort your grieving friends and family members without sounding trite or overly simplistic? When is the time to speak and when is the time to be silent? I don't know...it is an emotional battlefield that you have to negotiate...carefully. Sometimes, you just show up with a box of tissue and sit silently. Sometimes you provide the comic relief. Sometimes you just listen as they talk and cry it out. And sometimes you just go in the kitchen and start washing the dishes that are piling up. You'll know what to do - just do it.

I hold on to the promise of the resurrection found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. I hold on knowing that, should I live my life the way I assume my grandparents lived their lives, I'll see them again one day. One day, me and my big sister, Karen Willis Fields, are going to be reunited and she is going to fuss at me about my hair 'cause that's what she did. I'ma see my Aunt Lucy and she's gonna give me one of her patented, hide you in her bosom, type hugs. I'll meet up with my friend Mervin who drowned before his 17th birthday and who I never got a chance to tell how much he meant to me. Daddy Taylor will be there and he'll give me that classic Daddy Taylor smile of greeting and a soft word of encouragement. And Janie will be there and my cousin Cecile and my cousin Bayda, who died too young and too tragically, and my Uncle William, whose birthday is this week...and the list goes on and on and on.

It is going to be a day of great rejoicing when we are all reunited, but there will be some faces missing in the crowd as well. I pray mine is not one of them - yours neither.

Be blessed.

Precious Memories....

Precious memories (precious memories) how they linger (linger) how they ever flood my soul (my soul now) In the stillness (in the stillness) of the midnight (midnight) sacred secrets still unfold....

And every Oakwoodite I know says, AMEN!

Yesterday, I did the welcome at my church. Most people were surprised when I burst into song...even those who knew that I have been known in my lifetime to sing a note or two...like my mother. There was a time in my life when you couldn't get me to stop singing...but as time went by and I started hanging around "real" singers, I grew quieter and quieter and started singing only in the shower, the car or at family worship. When challenged by friends about hiding my talents, my response always was, "I'm developing the other talents God gave me...that one is not that important." Oh, I'd still lead out in song service, if asked, but anything more than that, I'd be sure to give another suggestion. But yesterday got me to thinking about my rich singing past.

My first memory of singing in public before a crowd was a tent revival meeting in Hartford, CT for the Faith SDA Church. Visiting my grandparents for the summer, somehow my grandmother convinced the pastor (I don't even remember who it was) to allow me to do special music one night. I was all of 5, maybe 6 years old, challenging Eleanor Wright singing "It's Raining Joy", which is still one of my favorite Blendwrights songs. (That, and "I Dreamed I Reached Heaven") Poor Faith members, I think every time I visited after that, I wanted to sing, but they were always encouraging...Aunt Joanie, Sis. Pearl and Bell, Uncle Walter, Kitson and Deb (none of whom were related to me, but I didn't find that out until I was grown!) and my godsis, Lin, always encouraged and supported me every time. Even when I messed up. (Remember my grandparents' going away service in 1978? I shoulda retired, never to sing again after that fiasco! Although I still maintain, Kevin was the one who messed us up!)

Throughout high school, I sang at school AND at church. It was often a juggling affair with my schedule between performances for the school and rehearsals for the church choir. Biggest accomplishment: singing a solo in German for my senior year concert AND being picked to sing at my high school graduation in our class quartet: shout outs to Susan, Barry and Michael - all Facebook friends and fellow graduation singers. What an honor and experience that was.

Off to college - the famous "Oaks" where singing is not for the faint of heart. I remember wanting to audition for the Aeolians and being intimidated; auditioning for College Choir (Jerry Hutchinson accompanied on the piano) and not making it; and then trying out for Blessed Peace and David King taking pity on me and allowing me to sing. (Just kidding) I LOVED being in Blessed Peace and singing with people like Mark Kibble and Mervyn Warren before they became famous, and Wanda Lott and Luchette and Randy Hutchinson, who I knew from NYC Ephesus and who took me under their wings. I remember Mark encouraging me to sing a solo once and me backing out because I didn't think I could do it like the person who was "known" for singing the solo in the song...one of the regrets of my life. I think if I had just tried it, I would have been better for it. Alas.

Even when I left the Oaks, for a while, I sang...at Berean under the leadership of Luther Washington, at Decatur under Jeff Taylor's direction...but after all, I slowly pulled away from singing. Don't know why. Too many choir rehearsals. Too much ego...mine and others. It just wasn't fun anymore. It was just easier to sit in the pews, enjoy the music and make comments like, "When I get to heaven, I'm gonna sing like...or sing in that choir...or..."

I'm not sure what happened yesterday when I did the welcome. I don't know what came over me. I am not announcing my desire to launch a new singing career (Sorry, Joey), but it may not be AS hard to get me up there to sing...we'll see.

Be blessed.

PS: If you want to hear the caterwauling, it's on churchpond.