Black Love: Remembering Gerald and Theon

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Black Love: Remembering Gerald and Theon

February is the month that African Americans celebrate Black History Month. “Black History Month also known as National African American History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.” Those such as Booker T. Washington, Madam C.J. Walker, Crispus Attucks, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and the first black president, Barack Hussein Obama.

February is also designated as the month of love. A time that we express our love to the special people in our life. And on this 26th day of February I want to designate it as Black Love Day. This idea won’t be picked up by Hallmark and it won’t receive national attention; but it will always be the day that I celebrate black love. You see, it was the day that Theon Dixon from Kinston, North Carolina married Gerald L. Smith Sr., from Baltimore, Maryland.


Gerald (affectionately known as Butch to his family and friends) and Theon met in 1965. The story is told that there was an instant connection between them, as though they had known one another all of their life. But Theon was already married to a man name Henry. And so Gerald and Theon lost touch with one another. If Gerald were alive today, he’d tell us that he never forgot Theon and had hoped that one day their paths would meet again. And as chance would have it, their paths did meet again many years later….1980 to be exact.

Theon was divorced from Henry and raising her two children in Baltimore. I am not exactly sure of the circumstances that reunited Gerald and Theon, but I do recall Gerald sharing with me many years later that once he found her again he was determined to not let her go. And so Gerald and Theon began dating and on February 26, 1987, Gerald and Theon became husband and wife.

Sounds like the makings of a storybook romance doesn’t it? The reality is there would be challenges and struggles on top of challenges and struggles and many believed that their relationship was dysfunctional and would not survive. But through the tumultuous, stormy, bumpy ride of the relationship, I like to say that the love they had for one another sustained them.

Admittedly, I was one of those persons who wished that the relationship would end. And I was also one of the people who did not celebrate their marriage. In fact, I did not attend the wedding. But as the years went on and I began to see the miracle working power of Jesus Christ transform my mother and my stepdad, my perspective began to change. I began to see two people who loved one another and who were committed to one another, defeat the odds and the obstacles. If Theon were alive today she would tell you that there were days she prayed that Gerald would just leave because he got on her nerves. And she would also tell you that God’s response to her prayer was, “You asked me for that man and my grace is sufficient.” Gerald’s response to Theon’s prayer, “I wasn’t going anywhere.”

And so Gerald and Theon lived as husband and wife for 23 years until the Lord called Theon home. One year and eight months later Gerald would join his wife in heaven.

I celebrate my parents today on their anniversary. I imagine them in heaven slow dancing to Stay In My Corner by The Dells as they celebrate what would have been their thirty year wedding anniversary.

 

As I remember my parents and reflect on their covenant, I pray that my husband shares the same level of commitment to our covenant that I do. I pray that we will share the same mindset that divorce is not an option and by any means necessary we will be determined to work through together the curve balls and challenges life can throw at us. That is what my parents did. Yes there were days they did not like one another. Yes there were days they asked the infamous question, “why did I get married? (At least my mother did)” Yes there were days they were not sure the marriage would make it to the next day. BUT, they were committed to one another and they were committed to their covenant.

And so I raise my glass today and salute my parents in heaven Gerald and Theon Smith on their thirty year wedding anniversary.

Happy Anniversary mommy and Mr. Butch. I love you.

 
~ Chocolate Chip

There Is A Balm

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Singleness is a time to reflect. Singleness is a time to be restored. Singleness is a time to heal. Singleness is a time to discover who we are and what we want. Singleness is a time for renewal of the mind, body, and spirit.  Heal. Restore. Mend.

 

Recently a friend’s illustration revealed to me how I have given pieces of myself away in relationships. She took a piece of paper and began to tear it. Each time she tore the paper she said it represented pieces of me that I have given to men over the years. Him. Him. Him. Him. When she had but one small piece of paper left she said that piece of paper was all I had left to give to my husband because I’ve given so much of myself away already.  Ouch.

 

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While that revelation was painful to hear, I am reminded that there is a Balm in Gilead.

 

“There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole;

There is a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin-sick soul”.

Jesus is my Balm in Gilead.  His blood is the balm that is applied to my life to Heal, Restore, and Mend.  I love Matthew Henry’s commentary about the Balm in Gilead.  He says, “God is able to help and to heal.  The blood of Christ is a balm in Gilead, his Spirit is the Physician there, all-sufficient; so that the people may be healed.”  I am reminded of King David who the bible says was a man after God’s own heart.  Yet we also know that King David dealt with his own sin.  But even through his challenges and difficulties David knew that God was able to restore him.  In Psalm 5:12 David writes:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you”.

  Psalm 23 also reminds me that God will restore what I have freely given away:

“He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

 My friend’s illustration was painful to hear.  But I rejoice knowing that God loves me so much that he heals, restores, and mends all that is broken and damaged in my life.

“What can wash away my sin……”

Hotep

His Gift 

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His Gift 

I am reading a book by Debi Pearl called Created To Be His Help Meet: Discover how God can make your marriage glorious.  Because my desire is to be married, I have been gleaning wisdom through scripture, books and listening to the wisdom of married couples.Beyond  just being married and being a wife however, my true desire is to be a godly wife. I desire to do marriage as God intended. I desire to be my husband’s crown. I desire for my husband to be proud to call me his wife. But I realized years ago that I would not see the manifestation of my desires with the mindset I had. And so the journey began to learn what kind of wife God desires me to be. 

First, I was introduced to Cheesette Cowan and her book Cultivating A Marriage Mindset which solidified for me that my way of thinking needed to change before I entered into a marriage covenant. And now Debi Pearl is showing me through God’s word and her experiences how to “appreciate the gift of my husband with a thankful heart that produces joy and wisdom in me and my home.” 

In chapter 1 the first thing that leaped off the page for me were these words, “A wise woman doesn’t take anything for granted. She is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely.”  

As I read those words I wondered to myself, “how many times have I been guilty of taking someone for granted?” We mistakenly assume that a person is going to be around forever. We make the mistake of thinking that we have time.  I thought of my past relationships and how and it felt to be taken for granted. It is not a pleasant feeling. But we have a tendency to (maybe unknowingly) place our careers and sometimes other people over those we love. We think because we are married to them they should understand and/or they are not going anywhere. But that way of thinking could be setting us up for failure in our marriages. So when I ask God to make me into a wife, it is also my prayer that he gives me the wisdom to not take my husband for granted. 

Part B of the above quote says “she is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely.” A dear friend once told me that being a wife is a gift from God. I had never looked at marriage that way but hearing her say that had an impact on me then and has left a lasting impression on me. 

 I was also reminded of conversations I’ve been privy to where women did not see it necessary any longer to go the extra mile to look nice for their husbands. 

We hear that men are visual creatures. And every day our husbands see women who are visually attractive to them. So the question I ask myself is, should he not also come home to his wife and find her looking lovely? 

While dating we pull out all of the stops. We don’t want our boyfriend to see us in sweats or that raggedy tee shirt we love so much. We make sure our hair is neat and we keep our mani/pedi game tight and we have on our lip gloss or maybe our face is beat to the gods. Bottom line, we go the extra mile to always look lovely for our boyfriends. But once we get married we adopt the attitude that he should just accept us as we are. I disagree. 

I am not competing with any woman my husband will see throughout his day, but I also don’t want my husband seeing these other woman who have taken time with their appearance, only to come home and see me looking as though I just rolled out of bed. The same effort I put into dating him, I want to put the same effort  into keeping his interest after we are married. 

In the book Debi Pearl confirms what my friend said years ago: “God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive-a woman. 

“And the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone; I will make a help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18) 

And then God “brought her into the man” (Genesis 2:22). 

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22) 

I decree that I  am my husband’s most treasured gift. One that he will cherish and thank God for every day. 

Hotep 

……But First The Process 

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……But First The Process 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I became a Christian 18 years ago. It was the best decision that I did not make and one that I have never regretted. I love God with all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul, and all of my strength. And I struggle with who I am. And I sometimes exhibit anger. And I sometimes get depressed. Now before someone goes and gets their knickers in a twist, please understand that I believe that what I cannot reveal, God cannot heal. And thus, I live my life as an open book for two reasons: First, I know God uses my struggles and my testimony to help someone else. And second, God knows everything about me so why should I care what man thinks? 

There are a lot of people who love God with every ounce of their being, who struggle with something. People who face a battle within their mind every day. Yes, I know word on the street is that once you become a Christian the battle is over or sin magically disappears but is it really? God promises in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” But the distance between what God says and where we are is often times great.

I love God but I have moments when I’m insecure. I love God but I struggle with lust. I love God but I get depressed. I love God but I lack patience. I love God but I get angry sometimes. I love God but my thoughts can sometimes be evil. I love God and I strive daily to obey his word. I strive daily to grow spiritually. But I still fall short often. How is this possible? Because I, like many of God’s people, have an ongoing battle within our mind. 

Satan, our number one enemy, has one job that he takes very seriously: “to kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). Satan studies us. He takes the time to get to know us. He knows our likes and dislikes. He knows our weaknesses. He listens to our prayers. He…Is….On…His…Job! And the first thing he attacks is our mind! He wants us to believe that we can’t change or that we will never change. He does not want us to ever realize who we are. He wants us to always be insecure, lacking confidence, believing that we have nothing to offer the world. Satan works hard to keep us in bondage because he knows that God predestined each of us for greatness; and he does not want us to reach our full potential. He does not want us to become the men and women God created us to be. But the devil is a liar and the truth can not be found in him anywhere!! 

So how do you and I begin to win the battle in our mind? How do we finally lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). I am so glad you asked. God tells us to not conform to this world but to renew our mind. Yes, I understand that we live in this world and sadly through life experiences (our own and the experiences of others), what we allow into our ear gate and eye gate, as well as our thoughts, are shaped by the world. But in 1 Peter 2:9 God says, “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” God has set us apart from the world. He says that we are in the world but not of this world; even as he is not of this world (John 17:16). And so we must be intentional about renewing our mind that we may have the mind of Christ and not the world. 

So how do we do that? How do we renew my mind? Well meaning people will tell you to pray (I’m guilty) and that’s good. Prayer is necessary. But prayer isn’t enough. In Romans 2:12 God does not tell us to pray and ask him to renew our mind. He gives us a command to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. In other words, the process of renewing our mind is equally our responsibility as it is God’s; and I would argue that we share the bulk of the responsibility. 

God promises to be with us through every situation (Deuteronomy 31:6). There is nothing that we will have to face alone when we are walking with God. Being freed from bondage can be scary and the enemy will use that moment to instill fear. For example, this year God told me that my focus is to be on (1) sowing, (2) giving, and (3) tithing. Not that I haven’t been doing these things, but I haven’t been consistent. So this is the year where I change that and it’s scary. And let me tell you, the enemy of my soul is trying to manipulate that. But the Bible says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Making change is always frightening. Renewing our minds will be frightening. But understand that fear is not of God, it’s from the enemy. God promises to be with us. He promised to lead us to all truth. That’s his part. Our part is to seek his truth. Study his word. Let God in every area of our life; not just the areas that we want him him in. The Bible says “in all thy ways acknowledge him.” So we must also acknowledge him in our areas of struggle and know that he is with us. 

We must also ask God for his wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What does God say about insecurities? What does God say about the spirit of lust? What does God say about anger? Ask him! Ask him to lead you to his truth! He promised that he would give generously but we have to ask! God is faithful to do just what he said. We never have to wonder if God will keep his promises because he will. But we must also take responsibility for our actions. 

There it is…..our part. We must acknowledge the part we play and take responsibility for it. Call a spade a spade. Take a look in the mirror and get completely raw with the person looking back at you. Admit that what you’ve been doing isn’t working and surrender to God so that he can change you from the inside. We have to admit that we can’t do this on our own. We need God every step of the way. But first we have to take responsibility. 

I know that I can’t listen to certain songs; I can’t watch certain shows; I can’t read certain books; I can’t be around certain people. When I place myself in precarious situations I am setting myself up for failure. I have, in that moment, given the enemy that inch; and believe me when I tell you that the enemy does not play fair! Therefore, I have to be intentional about all that I do because when I am not I set the stage for the enemy to come in and trip me up. You know the saying, “Give a person an inch and they will take a mile? That’s how the enemy works. He’s watching and waiting for that inch. But let’s be intentional about not giving him the satisfaction. Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy; think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” In the fight to win the battle of our mind we must think about good things. When we are thinking on things that are noble and pure and excellent and right, we have less time to think about bad things. And right thoughts often lead to right actions. 

A great deal of what I’ve been taught and/or learned from the world is being challenged. And I am more determined than I have ever been to change how I’ve always thought. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” I desire the mind of Christ and so I am doing my part in the process to renew my mind, trusting that as I do my part God will also do his. 

Hotep 

Preparation 

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Preparation 

“Who can find a virtuous woman?” ~ Proverbs 31:10

Recently I was speaking to a friend about marriage and that my desire is just not to be a wife, but to be a wife whose husband is proud of her and whose friends pat him on the back and say something like “well done.” I told this person that my desire is to not just be a wife but to be a virtuous wife; a wife who is her husband’s crown. I explained with passion that I desire to be the kind of wife that speaks life to her husband. The type of wife that encourages her husband. The wife who wakes up everyday thinking of ways to make her husband happy. My friend looked at me rather oddly; as though I were speaking in another language and I gathered by the silence that what I was saying was foreign…a concept that she had never even considered. Or maybe found silly, outdated, or even subservient. And quite understandably. The world that we live in does not teach us to be this type of wife. And most of us weren’t raised by women that exemplified this type of wife. I can testify that I sure was not! But as I’ve matured and grown I’ve come to understand that this is the type of wife God wants me to be. 

I remember many years ago a dear friend told me that being chosen to be a wife is a gift from God and she took her role as her husband’s wife seriously. Admittedly, I was taken aback by her statement that being chosen to be a wife was a gift from God, but I admired and respected her sentiments. And it was in that moment that I knew I wanted to feel that way about my marriage. I knew that I wanted to take my role as my husband’s wife seriously. And I knew that I was not going to learn it from the world. 

And so I’ve made it a point to learn what God says a wife is and what a wife should do. I’ve sat at the feet of married women and fed off every word they’ve shared concerning marriage and how to do it God’s way. I’ve taken notes and prayed and cried and prayed and cried and prayed and cried asking God to break in me what needs to be broken and develop in me the characteristics of a godly wife. I’ve asked God to develop the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) in me. I immerse myself in books and bible studies and in conversations about marriage (good, bad, and ugly) to help me prepare or at least lay a foundation upon which I can stand when God bestows his gift of marriage upon me. It’s not something that I will enter into lightly and thus, in taking the advice of my pastor, I am preparing now. 

And so my friend looked at me and said, “ok” as she laughed and changed the topic of our conversation. For a moment I took her response personally….for a very minute moment. And then I reminded myself, God’s ways are not our ways; and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God’s ways are a mystery to the world. But to those who are open and poised to receive, it is a thirst quenching well. 

My husband will find me one day. And I will be his crown. 

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” Proverbs 12:4

Hotep 

Hello 2017! 

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Happy New Year!!!! 

This is my first blog post of the new year. I am still slightly shocked that it is 2017. In fact, it seems as though the world just welcomed 2016 last month. But here we are already three days into a brand new year. If you’re like me you have already written out your goals, made resolutions, and/or set your intentions for 2017; and the real go-getters have already begun to take action to meet the goals they have set for themselves. But before we dove head first into our goals we all took a moment (or at least should have) to bid 2016 adieu and welcome 2017. 

2017 Ice Sculpture Carnival Liberty

Normally my New Years Eve finds me in one of two places: (1) Church attending Watch Night Service, or (2) Home in my PJs waiting for the ball to drop in Time Square. Rarely am I at any other place than the two mentioned previously. But for this NYE I found myself aboard the Carnival Liberty’s lido deck partying like it was 1999. Well, maybe not quite like it was 1999, but close.  The atmosphere was electric! The temperature was perfect! And more than 2000 fellow cruisers were counting down to the new year under the stars, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean! It was truly a wonderful night and I am so grateful to have been apart of it all. 

New Years Eve Celebration Carnival Liberty Lido Deck

But not only was that night wonderful, my entire vacation was wonderful….from beginning to end, and I did exactly what I wanted to do….ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! This trip was all about rest and relaxation. A time to simply be still and reflect on my successes and failures of 2016 and to consider and strategize on the goals I have written out for myself for 2017. It was a time to listen for that still small voice while allowing God to restore me so that I may be prepared for the journey that lies ahead. 
But as is said, all good things must come to an end and thus my cruise vacation ended today. However, not before teaching me an important lesson and reminding me that God is present in every moment.

On the flight home there were quite a few children and they all must have taken naps earlier because they were doing what children do. One child in particular, who looked to be about two, was quite fussy. He did not want to be confined to his daddy’s lap. He wanted to get down and move around freely. It also appeared that said child was fighting sleep which more than likely intensified his fussiness and that brought on the crying. I was completely enthralled in the book I was reading, but the sound of a crying baby has the capacity to make even the most stoic lose concentration. And as I listened to the cries of the baby and watch him attempt to break free from his father’s grip, and witness the obvious frustration on the faces of some of the other passengers who were reading or napping, I realized in that moment that we all could use a little more patience. I realized that we can become so wrapped up in what we are doing that even the slightest distraction will annoy us. And I’m not suggesting not for good reason, but as I took in that moment on the airplane I thought, crying is how that baby showed his frustration. He wasn’t able to talk so he couldn’t say to his father that he wanted to get down. He was unable to express to his father in words how he was feeling and so he communicated the best way he knew how…..by crying. 

We all at some point on this journey find ourselves in situations that frustrate us. And sometimes we do not know how to express our frustration. For some, the outlet we use to cope involves drugs, alcohol or even sex. Others completely shut down and shut the world out. Some vent their frustration through anger and lashing out. And sadly, there is a percentage that turn to violence; either against themselves or another person. But none of these are good or acceptable means to cope. We will become frustrated with the crying baby because the baby is annoying us but crying is actually a great way to release frustration and negative emotions and feelings. Crying can be healing and soothing. Sometimes after crying I feel free. Now, I’m not suggesting we start walking around crying like babies, but what I am suggesting is that we take the time to see God in that moment. A crying baby shows life…new life. A life that hasn’t been tainted by the world in which we live. Listening to that baby cry reminded me that I am alive and that I still have the ability to hear. Something that I would not be able to enjoy if I were dead or deaf. 

Let’s face it, there are millions of people who would love to hear a baby cry. So let’s not take for granted that even in that moment God is present. We just have to open our hearts to see Him. 

Nassau Bahamas

Photo Credit: Shannon Robinson

View of Atlantis From The Serenity Deck, Carnival Liberty

Father, Be My Light 

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In the mornings while preparing for work I like to watch reruns of My Wife and Kids (or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), listen to music (the genre depends on my mood) listen to something motivational (recently Eric Thomas), or I’ll listen to a sermon. This morning I listened to a bible study by Priscilla Shirer. You may recognize the name if you are at all familiar with the movie The War Room. I began following her after seeing the movie and thoroughly enjoy her teachings.

The foundation of the teaching I listened to this morning was that as believers we must be mindful of the deceitful ways the enemy trips us up. We must take every decision we have to make and run it through the light of God’s word. She quoted a prayer by Spurgeon which I love. The prayer was, “Lord help us to not only be able to discern the difference between right and wrong, but help us to also be able to discern the difference between right and almost right.” 

The level of truth in Spurgeon’s prayer is astounding. As a single woman maneuvering through dating in the 21st century, I can confess that I’ve met and dated “almost right.” I think of the obvious red flags that would make any woman in her right mind run for the hills. Those easy to spot nuances that immediately scream, “girl that ain’t it!” But what about the man that was as close to what you’ve prayed for as is possible to get and yet you discover that he was really only a decoy. A distraction set in place by the enemy. I mean, this gentleman is just about perfect and so you believe with all your heart that he is your Boaz and so you date and maybe eventually marry only to find out the hard way that this perfect gentleman was really part of the enemy’s plan to steal, kill, and destroy. 

The wrong guy can most times be spotted. But “almost right”……that’s another story entirely. As a single woman in the 21st century I have concerns about choosing the wrong guy. I have concerns that “almost right” will once again show up in my life, only to be totally wrong. And honestly, if I can speak bluntly, that….would…..SUCK!!!! It would suck because with every passing year time becomes more of a precious commodity. And to waste any more time on “almost right” would be well…..a waste. 

And so Priscilla Shirer urged believers to take every decision, no matter how big or how small, to the word of God. But she also spoke at length about not trusting our feelings. She said that feelings are not intellect. In other words our feelings lack wisdom. Our feelings lack understanding. Our feelings oftentimes lack common sense. When we make decisions based off our feelings then we are putting ourselves in a position for deceit. The “almost right” gentleman, the decision I made to pursue a relationship with him was based off feelings. The decision was based off how special he made me feel. The decision was based off everything other than what it should have been based off; me asking God was this his will. Because if I had asked God his thoughts about “almost right” God would have responded with “NO!! and I would have saved myself time and heartache. 

And so, I end this blog as I started it:

“Lord help me to not only be able to discern the difference between right and wrong, but help me to also be able to discern the difference between right and almost right.” 

Hotep