A Tale Of Two Fathers: A Father’s Day Blog

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In August 1965 my mother met and married the man I would know as my father; we will call him Robbie. Yes, you read that correctly…..they married three weeks after meeting. At some point during the marriage my mother realized that maybe her haste wasn’t well thought out. But in spite of only dating for three weeks, my parents stayed married for 15 years.

My father was a Marine who did four voluntary tours in Vietnam. Voluntary because my father was an only child, and during that time, the only child did not have to serve in Vietnam. My father however, decided to make the trip to Vietnam because his friends were going. Four friends. Four tours. Neither friend returned alive. But by the grace of God my father did….unharmed…..although my mother said that he came back a different person.

I am unable to speak to the type of husband my father was. I heard stories. I witnessed some incidents. But the type of husband my father was is my mother’s story. I can, however, speak to the type of father he was. But I won’t. I won’t rehash my experiences with my father. I won’t say anything negative about him. I will honor him as my father, the man that gave me life. And in honoring him on this Father’s Day, I will speak about the biggest lesson my father taught me; the power of forgiveness. My father taught me that forgiveness is paramount to my healing. My father taught me that forgiveness is necessary in this life. My father taught me that my ability to forgive is for my growth and happiness. My father taught me that forgiveness would allow me to move on, void of anger, resentment, and the desire to seek revenge. So on this Father’s Day, I thank my father for teaching me about the power of forgiveness.

Shortly after my parents were married, my mother was introduced to another gentleman. We will call him Whitey. There was an instant connection between the two. So much so that Whitey would never forget my mother and vowed if he ever had the opportunity to see her again, he would never let her go. As fate would have it, their paths would cross again more than 15 years later, and true to his word, Whitey did not leave my mother’s side. They dated for seven years and married in February 1988. And would stay together until my mom’s death.

My dad wasn’t perfect. But I’m not here to discuss those imperfections. Instead, I honor today by sharing the biggest lesson my dad would teach me; that unconditional love does exist. I bore witness to the love my dad had for my mother. I watched him love her and serve her during the marriage. I watched my dad selflessly care for my mother when she could no longer care for herself. I watched and gained a renewed hope in “til death do we part.” My dad taught me that every marriage will experience storms. But when two people are committed to their union, together they will be able to weather the storms.

I honor the two men who would hold the positions of father and dad in my life. I thank them for the lessons that they taught me that would ultimately shape me into the woman I am today. And I am grateful to God for a different perspective.

Happy Father’s Day

Hotep

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He Has What I Need

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Cast your cares (burdens) on the Lord and he will sustain you.” ~ Psalm 55:22

I often sit and reflect on the lessons that previous relationships taught me. Doing so helps me to grow and to know what not to do in the next relationship. These lessons have made me better and are stepping stones in preparing me to be a wife. One such lesson is the backdrop for this blog.

I have been single for almost as long as my last relationship lasted. On the surface, my relationship with Mr. B seemed good. I now realize that it was toxic. To be honest, the relationship should have never started in the first place because I broke two cardinal rules: (1) He had a child; and (2) we were friends. Both of which were deal breakers in my relationship handbook. But Mr. B caught me in my most vulnerable state and before I realized what had hit me I had jumped in, heart first.

Within the first two years of my relationship with Mr. B, I Iost my job, my parents, and everything in between. I was borderline homeless and had no idea where my next meal was coming from. I relocated from Philadelphia to North Carolina, then eventually to Washington D.C., where I moved in with Mr. B. It was during the time that we lived together that I would learn what has probably been the biggest relationship lesson of my life.

You see, I was an emotional wreck. I was depressed. My self-esteem was low. And I felt worthless. I really needed to feel loved. I needed to be validated. I needed to be reassured. I looked to Mr. B to fill those longings, only to find myself disappointed and oftentimes feeling worse. One day, while lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself, and crying my eyes out because the man that I was with was not giving me what I needed, I heard the voice of God say, “I Am, in your life.” It was the ah-ah moments of all ah-ah moments! It was in that exact moment that I realized that Mr. B was not responsible for my emotional well being and making him responsible for it was totally unfair.

Now, you are probably reading this and thinking, “But he should have been there for you! He has to hold some responsibility!” I get it….trust me. I wanted to hold him responsible as well. But what God was telling me was that Mr. B, nor any other human being, is responsible for my healing. I am responsible for my own healing, and my healing was only coming from God. Fast forward to the present, and as I find myself dating again and hoping to eventually be married, I find that I am having to revisit this lesson.

It started with a devotional I read titled “Dating In The Modern Age.” If you are reading my blogs, then you know in my last blog posting I proclaimed that dating in 2018 sucks! And while the process is challenging, it’s forcing me to examine myself, which is ultimately leading me back to God. The devotional also reminded me of a bible study that Cheesette Cowan did titled “The Low Maintenance Wife.” Both reminded me to stay connected to my source to be filled, so that I won’t pull on others to do what only God can do.

My desire is to not only be a wife to my husband, but to be a help meet. I want to be a wife that my husband is proud of. In the words of Brenda Moore, Wife Coach, I want to be a “crown to my husband.” Brenda points out that a crown is not heavy, it’s light. I imagine not being a burden to my husband by weighing him down with my emotional junk.

In “The Low Maintenance Wife,” Cheesette points out that the needs of love, security, acceptance and identity are to be found in God, not my husband. These are the needs that I expect God to meet, not my husband. When I look to others to meet these needs, I pull on them emotionally; I weigh them down with my stuff. So now they are carrying their stuff and mine too. But, the love of man was never meant to satisfy those deep emotional needs. Only the love of God is able to do that. My husband, should not have to, nor be held responsible for fighting through my emotional turmoil, maneuvering around the barriers I’ve put around my heart, or sifting through the toxic and failed relationships of my past. I MUST work these things out with God. Then I MUST stay connected to God who is my source through fellowshipping with him, spending time with him, and spending time in his word. Doing so helps me to embrace the love of God, then extend it to others.

As I waddle out into the waters of the dating world, I am reminded that dating relationships cannot be used to validate me or provide me with my identity. This only sucks the life out of people and is the basis for the start of toxic relationships. I must know who I am in Christ. My identity must be rooted in Christ. I must know that God loves me. I must know that God cherishes me. I must know he will never give up on me. My relationship with God must be solid before I choose a mate because “my soul thirst for deep satisfaction. However, it can not be found in the arms of men. The longing my soul aches for can only be found in God, The source of my life.”

Hotep

Dating In 2018

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I have heard it said that, “Married people want to be single, and single people want to be married.” I can’t speak for every single person, but for me marriage is something that I desire. But not marriage just to say I’m married. I don’t care about the wedding or any of the other hoopla surrounding the “Big Day.” I desire Forever. Til Death Do We Part. But, I have to be honest, as a single woman dating in 2018, that premise seems to be a fairytale. Why? Because in order for me to reach Forever, I must first survive dating and let’s just be honest….DATING SUCKS!!! At least for me as a 51 year old woman.

 

Ok, in all fairness I have never enjoyed the dating process, hence why I’ve never done it. I understand clearly the process and the difference between dating and courting. But it’s just not for me. And so I find myself at a crossroads; continue to remain open to the possibility and hope that one day I will meet the man who wants what I want, with me? Or, do I raise the white flag in defeat and bear my cross of singleness?

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I know what you’re thinking as you read “bear my cross of singleness,” so let me clarify. I am in no way saying that singleness is somehow a curse or a bad thing or even a burden (well, maybe at times a burden). What I believe is that singleness, and being able to accept it as your lot in life, is a gift. I believe that Paul urges singles to stay single because he understood that marriage is not for the weak nor faint of heart. And I believe that in my singleness I am better able to focus on the things of God versus being married where my focus is on my husband. So I am in no way suggesting that being single is a bad thing. It’s just not something that I imagined I would be at 51 and not something I want to continue doing.

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Navigating through the trenches of singleness reminds me of the obstacle course I completed in basic military training school.  I’m swimming through the bullsh*t and lies, and low crawling pass the annoying and obnoxious creeps who are already boo’d up but trying to holler at me too.  If I had to sum up dating in 2018 in one word I would say TIRING!

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But there is hope…

Hotep

Acceptance = Freedom

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When you hear the word grief, what comes to mind? For many, we automatically associate grief with death. But grief and the stages of grief can be felt through any type of loss….job loss, divorce, or the demise of a relationship/friendship. Anytime we experience loss, we are also prone to experience grief.

Grief has five stages: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone experiences grief differently and they may not go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

Grief can be taxing on the body. It can cause stress, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, and in some cases, depression and feelings of solitude. After the death of my mother, I experienced depression. I had bouts of uncontrollable crying that made me feel as though I was having a nervous break down, which ultimately led me to seek out grief counseling, which proved to be very beneficial.

For several months I have been grieving the loss of a friendship. I’ve told myself that I was over it. But an event, song, or Facebook memory will remind me of the loss and it sucks. I am constantly replaying the events that led to the demise of the relationship over and over again in my mind, trying to determine what could have been done differently. Was there anything I could have done differently to fix or salvage something that was special to me? I have yet to come up with an answer to that question. And so I ask myself, at this point does it even matter? Maybe I have finally reached stage 5 of the 5 stages of grief.

I know I should just let it go and move on. But it hasn’t been easy. On the outside I present a hard exterior. Inside however, I’m just a big ole teddy bear. I care deeply. And I love even deeper. When I open myself up and allow myself to be vulnerable…..if I call you friend or my brother or sister…..then I genuinely love you and care for you and would do anything within my power for you; and oftentimes cannot imagine my life without you. But, I’m here. And it’s not like I haven’t been here before. But loss is felt regardless of how many times a person experiences it.

It is said that reaching stage 5 of the stages of grief, is a gift not afforded to everyone . It certainly does not feel like a gift, but I get it. Many people get stuck at a particular stage and never experience the freedom that comes with acceptance. I’m grateful.

I suppose if it’s part of God’s plan, the relationship will be restored. If not, I pray all of the best for my friends. I hold no ill will or animosity or anything of the sort in my heart. I love them, and that will never change.

Everyone Loves A Challenge

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So I have done something really crazy. Something so crazy it causes me to shake my head every time I think about it. I have challenged myself to run 1000 miles in a year. Crazy right?! Who, in their right mind, would set out to do something that seems virtually impossible? I suppose me, and thousands of other crazy runners.

Everyone knows that our goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.). So I had to make this lofty goal of running 1000 miles in a year a tad bit more realistic by being specific on how to reach it. I first determined how many miles I would need to run each month by dividing 1000 by 12. I will need to run a total of 83 miles per month. Next, I wanted to figure out how many miles I would need to run each week to make sure I reach my goal of 83 miles per month. To determine this I divided 83 miles by the number of weeks in each month. From this calculation I determined that I need to run approximately 21 miles a week to reach my goal of 83 miles per month. Finally, I had to determine how many miles per day I would need to run to reach my goal of 21 miles per week. To do this I divided 21 miles by the number of days in a week, which comes out to 3 miles per day. Three miles a day is definitely more realistic and attainable than 1000 miles in a year.

So far I have ran 29 miles. I have 971 more miles to go. I got this! But even if I do not reach 1000 miles by 1/1/19, I will be proud of myself for even attempting such a feat,

The Tale Of Two Women

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I was having a conversation with a friend whom I’ll call Linda. Linda was sharing with me how she had to go back into her past and make amends with her younger self. Linda wanted to apologize to her younger self for allowing her to die every time life showed up. Linda shared that her younger self was vibrant and full of energy. She was outgoing, fun and the life of the party. She had big dreams and was raised to go after those dreams. But with every heartbreak, every setback, everything life could attack Linda with, a piece of her would die; until eventually Linda did not recognize who she had become.

Linda encouraged me to take a journey into my past and make amends with my younger self. Linda said the person she sees in my photo albums is not the person that she sees today.

I pondered that for a moment and then began to look through my many photo albums. I looked at the 20 something year old staring back at me and asked myself the question, “Where is she? What happened to her?” Linda asked me at what point did my younger self leave and my answer was hurtful but truthful. My younger self left when my long term relationship ended. That revelation brought tears to my eyes. But it didn’t stop there; life would eventually cause her to pack her bags and retreat.

I’ve given careful consideration to that conversation. I’ve played it back in my head over and over and over again. I’ve stared at the photos and remembered those moments in time. I’ve considered that 20 something woman and the woman I am today and drew a firm conclusion: I don’t need to find her. She’s not lost. She just grew up.

Twenty something Shannon was something alright. She was fly! She was cute! She was free! She was wild! She was outgoing and loved to party and have fun! Twenty something Shannon also did not have a shortage of admirers. There were many who yearned for the opportunity to cross her threshold. Oh yes, she was hot, and she knew it.

But twenty something Shannon can’t hold a candle to 50 year old Shannon. Sure, she may not be considered fly by today’s standards, and she’s more of a homebody than a party girl, but fifty year old Shannon is a woman of substance. Fifty year old Shannon has been saved, sanctified and redeemed. She loves God and has a personal relationship with him. She’s no longer trying to discover herself. She knows who she is and who she’s not, and she’s comfortable with both. She has a faith that is unshakable. She’s strong and resilient. Though she makes mistakes at times, she handles her business. When life tries to break Shannon, she stands flat footed, stares life in the eye and says, “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Since twenty something Shannon packed her bags and retreated, fifty year old Shannon experienced job loss, she buried her parents, she was homeless, she was evicted, and she’s had her heart broken…again. But she handled it all with grace. Fifty year old Shannon knows how to love. She knows how to forgive. Shes a prayer warrior. She’s open to new experiences. Fifty year old Shannon is passionate and compassionate. She’s settled and she’s fine with who she is.

The tale of two women is about one woman who has grown through the storms of life. Twenty something Shannon, girl you were the bomb! But you are a moment in time. A fond memory; strong in your own right. But, fifty year old Shannon, girl……you are God’s masterpiece, his calling card. You are fine as aged wine and graceful to boot. Keep shining girl! Because God is not through with you yet!

A Scripture For Every Season

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The inspiration for most of my blog topics come from life experience.  However, every once in a while I’ll hear something on television or in a conversation that sparks a blog topic in my mind.  But the subject matter for this blog was inspired by my pastor’s sermon.  It was not the sermon title but rather something that my pastor said that caused me to put pen to paper.  Pastor Wesley said, “Certain seasons make certain scriptures rise up and anchor us.”  As I let that quote permeate my mind, I began to think of seasons in my life where the infallible word of God anchored me in the storm and gave me the strength to continue on.

For example, when I gave my life to Christ, God immediately began to deal with me in the area of  forgiveness.  More specifically, God wanted me to forgive my father.  And so God led me to Matthew 6:14-15 which says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sin.”   The Message bible puts it another way, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”  Whoa! God was telling me that in order for him to forgive me I had to forgive me father.  And so, Matthew 6:14-15 became the catalyst to letting go of the baggage of unforgiveness that  I had carried for more than 20 years.

When my friend John went into the hospital to have what was thought to be routine surgery but never woke up, I struggled with how God could allow that to happen. John was a young husband and father to three beautiful girls. He was extremely excited about the pending birth of his first son who would be his name sake. But instead of John being present for the birth of his son, John’s widow was now planning his funeral. That was a hard death to accept. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor crying and asking God, “why John?” But it was what I said next that led me to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about is promise to return, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.”  As I sat on my bedroom floor that day grieving over the loss of my friend, I told God that I could name at least five people that he could take instead of John.  But what God showed me was that John had accepted Christ and was now present with Him; my list of five had not yet accepted God’s gift of salvation and because God loves them to, he was giving them more time to repent and accept his gift of salvation.

Then of course there was the death of my mother.  Psalm 23:4, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me,” was the glue that held me together as I learned to live in a world where my mother no longer existed.

When I found myself jobless and borderline homeless, not knowing at times what I would eat, there were several scriptures that I held on to.  I would pray these scriptures every day, especially on those days when the enemy tried to make me believe that God had forsaken me:

Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”

Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply everyone of my needs according to his riches in glory.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

In life, each of us will find ourselves in one of three places: (1) going into a storm; (2) already in a storm; or (3) coming out of a storm.  Where ever life has you at the present moment, know that there is a scripture that will anchor you and give you the strength to continue on.

Hotep