27 January 2013
You may have heard this already, but I was BLESSED to attend the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC recently and saw Barack H. Obama sworn in, for the second and final time, as President of the United States of America. The picture attached is a picture I captured just as the sun was peeking over the crest of the Capitol Building, and is one of my favorites from that auspicious day.
I did not attend the inauguration four years ago. I chose to spend it with my then-89 year old grandmother, in the warmth and comfort of her home in Palatka, FL. Watching her emotional response to seeing a Black man sworn into office was worth missing out on the crowds, cold and excitement of Monday, January 20, 2009.
In planning for this inauguration, there was a lot of concern about the weather: would it be frigidly cold again? What should be the plan of attack when it came to dressing for the event? Would the excitement of being in “the place” be enough to keep a sista warm? Yeah, all of that ran through my head as I packed in Atlanta to travel to our nation’s capital. The secret: layers, layers and more layers.
When my lil sister and I got to our seats on the Capitol lawn, we remarked that the weather was actually pretty pleasant. Especially after the sun rose and shone down brightly on the crowds gathered. In fact, at one point, the comment was made about how “balmy” the weather was and how good the sun felt touching our skin. It was all roses, sunshine and romance then.
BUT THEN THE SUN WENT BEHIND THE CLOUDS.
The difference in the temperature was palpable, immediate and noticeable. It wasn’t long before my toes felt like frozen popsicles and the tip of my nose was surely as bright as my hot pink “pop of color” jacket. Gloves were pulled out and put on, then the second layer of gloves applied. Hunkered down in my sheepskin coat, there was a time when all you could see of my face was a pair of dark brown eyes peeking through the space between my hood and my coat collar. Yeah, I shoulda taken a picture of THAT, but it was too cold to be holding a camera. The wish was often expressed, “I sure wish the sun would come back out from behind the clouds.”
Notice, I never questioned where the sun went. I KNEW it was hidden behind the clouds. I just wanted it to make an appearance. I just wanted it to show back up. Anyone who has read my blog with any regularity should know where I am going with this: How often are we basking in the glory of the Sonshine, taking for granted the warmth of His love for us, only to have a cloud come by and mask or hide the Son from our view? It may be the cloud of depression, or the loss of a loved one, family member or friend. It may be the cloud of unemployment, or disappointment by a spouse or in a child, friend or parent. It may be the cloud of “oh no, I done messed up again, how will God ever forgive me (again) for this sin?” There are a lot of clouds that come our way that seem to block the blessing of the Son shining in and on our lives.
BUT THE SON IS STILL THERE.
Even when it seems like He is hiding, and no where to be found – HE IS STILL THERE. When it seems like He has moved away and on to bigger and better things than you and your hurt, despair and anguish – HE IS STILL THERE. Knowing that, holding on to that, keeping that knowledge buried in my heart and soul, has helped me overcome a lot of hurt, pain, anguish, despair, self-loathing, and other negative things in my life.
Whenever you are in a valley. Whenever it seems like the clouds are overshadowing every aspect of your life. Whenever it feels like you will never be warm again…just remember, the Son (Jesus) is still there. And just like the sun did break through again on inauguration day, the Son will shine again in your life, on your problems and issues, at the appointed time. Hold fast to His Hand. Trust in His promises. And know that He loves YOU with an everlasting love.
©2013 Kristina E. Smith
25 January 2013
It is only 25 days into the New Year and already, the news of four deaths within my church family has reached my ears. On Monday, I will attend my second funeral of the year. It should be my third, but I was out of town and missed one. Already I am wondering if this year will be a repeat of 2009, when I stopped counting the number of funerals I attended when it hit 30 and we were only in June, with six months remaining in the year.
Death is a part of living, and I have reached that age where it is inevitable that I will experience the passing of my parents, my friends’ parents, my aunts and uncles – blood related and heart-tied, seasoned saints and other elders in my life. It’s a reality and foregone conclusion. It is just a fact of life - and on some level, I accept that, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I don’t have to like the fact that I can never pick up the phone and hear that voice again. I don’t have to like the fact that I will walk into church and never hear that booming voice or see that wide smile or feel that gentle handshake ever again. I don’t have to like it – but I do have to accept it as a part of life.
Acceptance. Easier said than done. However, as with all things, I have a choice. I can either spend the next few days wallowing in the morass of sorrow that threatens to overtake me when I think about the souls gone and departed. And there have been moments when that is all I want to do: go crawl in a corner and just have a good ole-fashioned, ugly, mess up all the makeup, don't even try to come and take a picture, cry. Yep, I could do that. Or, I can cherish the memories of the good times we had together on this side of heaven – knowing that, if I live my life faithful to what I believe, I will see them again on the other side of heaven. And when that happens, there will be no further separation because of death. We will live forever and ever in God’s presence and with each other.
I chose to remember and cherish. Remember the good works of those who have passed on. Remember the words of encouragement, love and support. Remember the laughs and smiles. Remember the admonitions to care for those less fortunate and to share the bounty that God has blessed me with. To honor the memories of those who have been laid to sleep until His return by living my life to the fullest and by keeping their memories alive in my heart and actions.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 reminds us that:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."Nothing happens without it being the prescribed time for it to happen. Life, death, happiness, sorrow – it is all a part of the cycle of life. I may not like this particular “season” in my life right now, but I know that it is only for a little while – and then the next “season” will come. E’en so, come quickly.
©2013 Kristina E. Smith
11 January 2013
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. - Matthew 6:3 (KJV)
One of the things that I want to do this year is participate “daily” in engaging in my world through random acts of kindness (“RAOK”). The acts don’t have to be big, or cost a lot (or any) money – all they have to be is … random.
So far, I have been pretty successful. I have randomly bought coffee for a person standing behind me in line at my neighborhood Starbucks. I’ve purchased pizzas and delivered them as a surprise lunch to the post office employees where my mail is delivered every day. I have written (and mailed) numerous cards – thinking of you, get well, thank you, birthday – you name it, I’ve probably sent one out already this year. Small things that I pray have brought smiles to faces, brightened gloomy days, and touched a heart or life in a special, significant way.
Today, I posted a status about the pizza delivery with my friends on Facebook. Probably not the best move.
All of the comments in response to the status post have been wonderful – and complimentary. Which, on some level, embarrasses me since my reason for posting the status was not for accolades or congratulations or statements of “you are so wonderful.” Not even a little bit. It really and truly was posted to share the reaction to the gesture with my friends. The looks of surprise and thanks from a group of people who are often publicly reviled as being lazy or hostile or any number of other negative things. Postal workers don’t get enough love, if you ask me. Another reason for the status post was to hopefully encourage others to step outside their personal comfort boxes and take small steps to share themselves with their world.
As the accolades and commendations poured in (27 likes and 6 comments at last count as I write this blog), I was reminded of Jesus’ words in the first few verses of Matthew 6. He tells us that when we do stuff, we should not stand up and tell everyone what we have done. Matthew 6:1 (KJV) says: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” I believe the key words in this text are “to be seen of them”. In other words, it all boils down to “motives” when it comes to doing good deeds. Are you / Am I doing the deed so that others can say, “Ooo, look at what a great Christian (or person) she is!” ? If that is the case, then shame on you and shame on me.
The Bible further tells us in Matthew 6:4 (KJV), “That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.” In other words, it may not be my “job” to encourage others to show kindness randomly by posting/sharing what I have done. I just need to do it, and let the chips … or, in this case, blessings … fall where they may.
So, having said that, I believe that going forward, I won’t post statuses about my RAOK. I will log them in my journal and keep them close to my heart. I will also choose to believe that I have great friends – and that maybe they will read this blog post and make a decision within their own hearts to randomly touch the lives of those around them in positive, meaningful, heart-rich ways.
©2013 Kristina E. Smith
04 January 2013
02 January 2013
Let’s get something straight from the very beginning: I LOVE the art of communication. I love having a pretty extensive vocabulary. I love words and the power they have. I love being able to express myself in writing and vocal conversations with my friends. I love reading and all the adventures inherent in immersing yourself in a book that takes you far, far away, just by the turn of a page. I love all that. HOWEVER, I learned early in life that everyone doesn’t feel the same way I do. Just because you have a thought in your head, and have the vocabulary to express it – sometimes, maybe a thing is better left unsaid.
So…early on in my life, I learned the power of the innuendo. I learned that I could say what I wanted to say, all while implying that I was saying something else. I learned that mental pictures, painted by the crafty use of string of words, placed together with precise detail, would garner the desired result – without (necessarily) exposing any nefarious thoughts I was seeking to express at the time. It especially worked well with members of the opposite sex because men are visual creatures. Give them an image – mental or actual – and they will run with it every time. (Sorry guys, but you KNOW this to be true.)
However, lately, I am finding out that it is more important to just be forthright and honest with people. To stop hiding behind the innuendo and just say what I mean – but more importantly, to mean what I say. It tends to take people off guard because we live in a society where honesty is NOT the first thing people give each other. Between the lies we promote on Facebook about the “fabulosity” of our lives to the 140 characters we tweet on Twitter to prove how witty and clever we are – we are rarely honest with ourselves, much less with each other. So, when I step out from behind the innuendo armor that I have worn for so long, and state my views and feelings with honesty and openness, people are taken aback and I get the nervous response, “Kristina, you are so funny – or silly – or…whatever.” Nope, I am just being honest.
Our words have power (or they should, anyway). In Luke 4:32, it states: “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” When Jesus walked this earth, the people followed after Him because He was unlike anyone they’d ever seen before. He was not like their local priest or elder or prophet. He spoke the truth – and He spoke it with power and conviction and certainty – because HE knew the truth of what He was saying. He didn’t speak in innuendos for nefarious reasons. His parables were teaching lessons, usually drawn from nature, that the people could relate to and take home with them to ponder and understand.
I have been blessed to have two male friends in my life who, lately, have really been pulling me up whenever I cross the line with my statements of innuendo. And, at first, I was “mad” at them. But I realize that God places people in your life for HIS purpose and not necessarily for your own. So, I’m just gonna take the verbal chastisement and (hopefully) learn my lesson. Pray for me to that end, won’t you?
Happy 2013! Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know it has been a while since I have posted anything to my blog, but I’ma do betta in 2013. Or, at least that is my goal and intention. 2012 was a remarkable year with a LOT of changes, excitement, challenges, and activity – and somehow, in all the hoopla, writing took a back seat. But in 2013, I pray to put it front and center again. (Fingers crossed – toes too!)
Country singer star, Brad Paisley, in referring to the New Year, is quoted as saying “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Interesting thought, when you consider the veracity of it. Each year, we are given a “clean slate” – or so we like to believe. A clean slate to start all over – to eat better, exercise more, spend more time with friends and family, seek new adventures, etc. There is just something about January 1st that makes you feel positive and happy and hopeful and ready to take on new challenges. And while it is a faulty premise – January 1 is a day just like any other day when you think about it – we NEED New Years Day because it does hold within it, that hope for “better.”
But, isn’t “better” always within your grasp? Isn’t the power to change always within reach? Can’t you promote change on January 1st or May 15th or my personal favorite day of the year, November 14th? On any one of those days (or any other day in the year), you can CHOOSE to write your story, change your circumstances, broaden your horizons. It is within your power. You just have to get up off the couch, put down the potato chips and do it. (Or maybe that is just me…)
As a rule, I don’t make resolutions. After all, why frustrate myself when I traditionally fall short of the mark, usually by mid-January? I am going to set some goals for myself. Maybe I will share them with you all later. But regardless of my stance on the whole “resolution” thing, I do take great joy in hearing about my friends’ resolutions, mandates and goals for 2013. Lose weight, eat better, love more, argue less, promote kindness – all good things to do and embody into the fabric of your life. I wish them well.
365 blank pages.
What are you going to do with yours?
©2013 Kristina E. Smith